Dres­sage Zee­land and high­lights

Char­lotte Du­jardin tri­umphs at ev­ery se­nior level with two very tal­ented mares each mak­ing their in­ter­na­tional de­buts

Horse & Hound - - Contents - By POLLY BRYAN

Zee­land, Nieuw en Sint Joosland, Nether­lands

AL­MOST ex­actly seven years ago, Char­lotte Du­jardin and a rel­a­tively un­known nine-yearold named Vale­gro made their in­ter­na­tional grand prix de­but, scor­ing 73.7% and kick­ing off a new era for dres­sage.

This week­end, Char­lotte pi­loted an equally ex­cit­ing nine-year-old to a fan­tas­tic in­ter­na­tional de­but. Emma Blun­dell’s Fi­der­mark mare Mount St John Freestyle was al­ready the talk of the Bri­tish dres­sage scene, with a plus-81% grand prix de­but in March, but here Char­lotte and Freestyle stamped their author­ity on the in­ter­na­tional scene with a 75.15% grand prix vic­tory and a phe­nom­e­nal 81.45% kür.

The most im­pres­sive thing about their grand prix score was that the test was not mis­take-free. This mare loves an at­mos­phere, and her overex­u­ber­ance meant she broke to can­ter in both ex­tended trots and lost balance in the right pirou­ette, caus­ing the marks to plum­met. But with more ex­pe­ri­ence, this tal­ented horse’s scores look set to rocket.

“Freestyle has never done any­thing like this be­fore — we didn’t know how she would cope with the trav­el­ling,” said Char­lotte. “But she felt in­cred­i­ble and was so ex­cited to be in the arena. So many peo­ple swarmed the sides of the arena to watch and, nor­mally, Freestyle’s not fazed by that, but she was a lit­tle frag­ile in her trot­work. It just felt as though she was try­ing too hard at times.”

While some marks suf­fered — some threes creep­ing in for her first ex­tended trot — this pow­er­ful, ex­pres­sive mare earned plenty of nines, in­clud­ing for her one-time changes and her pi­affe, as well as a 10 for her pas­sage.

Freestyle pro­duced a much more con­sis­tent kür, barely scor­ing be­low a seven. Us­ing Vale­gro’s How to Train Your Dragon mu­sic, Char­lotte kept the floor­plan rel­a­tively sim­ple for the mare’s sec­ond ever freestyle test.

“It was a case of me hold­ing her hand and not scaring her. But I know that in another month or two it will be dif­fer­ent,” said Char­lotte, who plans to cam­paign Freestyle at Wind­sor, Bolesworth and Rot­ter­dam CDIs as part of their bid for World Eques­trian Games team se­lec­tion.

Swe­den’s Juli­ette Ramel slot­ted into grand prix sec­ond with Buriel KH, also tak­ing the top spot in the special, while

Hans Peter Min­der­houd made a suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional grand prix de­but on the 10-year-old Vi­valdi stal­lion Glock’s Dream Boy, scor­ing 73.87% for third.

Gareth Hughes and Don Caris­simo were the best of the chas­ing Brits, fin­ish­ing 13th in the grand prix but pulling up to third in the special. Their 68.29% is well be­low what this pair can achieve, but this is just their sec­ond in­ter­na­tional appearance since with­draw­ing from the 2017 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

FLORENTINA’S FO­CUSED

CHAR­LOTTE’S own eight-yearold Vi­valdi mare Florentina proved un­beat­able at small tour, win­ning the prix st georges, in­ter I and in­ter I freestyle on her own in­ter­na­tional de­but. In­cred­i­bly, these were the del­i­cate grey mare’s first ever in­ter I and freestyle tests, hav­ing been lightly com­peted through the lev­els thus far.

“I’m so proud of ‘Flora’ — she’s done so lit­tle at home and has never re­ally trav­elled,” said Char­lotte, who scored plus-77% in both straight tests and nearly 79% in the kür. “The classes here were huge and I felt a lit­tle out of our depth; it was such a big ask for her. But she’s so fo­cused.”

Bri­tain’s Char­lotte Fry had a great show in her first year out of young riders, pi­lot­ing Dark Leg­end to third in the un­der-25 in­ter II and grand prix. Char­lotte and the 10-year-old Zuc­chero son also fin­ished fourth in the un­der-25 grand prix freestyle, their 73.47% a huge per­sonal best.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from him,” said Nether­lands-based Char­lotte. “There’s so much to im­prove on, so hope­fully there will be many more marks to come.”

Char­lotte Du­jardin and Mount St

John Freestyle con­tinue their up­ward tra­jec­tory with a high-scor­ing in­ter­na­tional de­but

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