The World’s best Dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Edward Gal (NED) was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound.
In addition to the top-class competition, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester took centre stage to give a dressage masterclass showcasing the training routine of a champion and performances from The Chilean Huasos and the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch gave the crowd a night to remember. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National got off to a flying start with Ollie Proctor and Holydell Sensation passing the post in front to take the first victory of the week.
Popular Dutch dressage rider Edward Gal and the young stallion Glock’s Zonik (76.68%) claimed the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
The win made a cold, slow journey from The Netherlands, that was beset by delays caused by the wintery weather, worthwhile. It was also an impressive display of horsemanship from Gal and talent from the expressive and elegant nine-year-old Glock’s Zonik, who was competing in just his third ever Grand Prix, and now has two wins and a second place on his CV. Highlights of the test include ground covering half-passes and particularly impressive elastic piaffe and passage.
“The journey here was really no fun at all,” said Gal, a winner of the FEI World Cup qualifier at Olympia in 2009 with the record breaking Totilas, before going on to win the FEI World Cup Final later that season. “We left home at 6am on Sunday and finally arrived in London at 6pm on Monday evening, but this win makes up for all that. I was really happy with Zonik especially as it was his first time in such a big atmospheric arena – this is really promising for the future.”
Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel, who also endured a marathon journey to London, came a close second with the Oldenburg gelding Delaunay (75.10%). The pair performed a well presented and confident error free test. “I am very happy to be here for the second time,” said Kittel. “London is such a great show.”
Olympia debutant Madeleine Witte-Vrees from The Netherlands was third with the bright chestnut Cennin (73.72%), with whom she made her senior championship team debut in this year’s Europeans, while Emile Faurie and Delatio (72.86%) were the highest placed British combination. It was an impressive competitive Grand Prix debut for the pair, who has only been together for two months.
“Tonight’s Grand Prix was quite a challenge for the judges,” said Stephen Clarke, President of the Ground Jury. “They were many good combinations, some exciting expressive horses and scores that were close together.”
Charlotte Dujardin took to the Olympia Grand Hall for the first time since the retirement of her triple Olympic gold medal winning partner, Valegro, this time last year. Riding Mount St John Freestyle, Charlotte was put through her paces by mentor and Olympic team mate, Carl Hester, to display the key attributes and training methods for producing a champion.
Mount St John Freestyle, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare, nick-named “Mrs Valegro” by Carl during the demonstration, is looking to step up to Grand Prix level next year, with the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games as the target. The composed performance showcased the exceptional talents of both horse and rider, who have already attained several titles together, including the recent Future Elite Championship and the Summer British Dressage National Championship.
To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.
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