Not for the first time in her career, Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin set the arena alight when steering Imhotep to victory at the fifth leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League in London (GBR) tonight. And, mirroring the result of yesterday’s Grand Prix, compatriots Lottie Fry with Everdale and Becky Moody with Jagerbomb filled second and third places.

Dujardin is always a crowd-puller, her spectacular record in the sport guaranteeing big audiences and plenty of profile. And once again this evening she didn’t disappoint.

From a starting field of 14, she stood out from the rest when putting a score of 89.465 on the board with the horse with whom she has great hopes. Not since her glory days with the magnificent Valegro has the 38-year-old rider seemed so excited about the future as she continues to build her partnership with the 10-year-old gelding who is known at home as Pete.

At the FEI European Championship 2023 in Riesenbeck, Germany in September, where the pair helped their country to team gold before claiming both Grand Prix Special and Freestyle bronze, Dujardin was already delighted with the progress being made by her relatively unexposed chestnut horse. She made no secret of the fact that she is targeting the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with him, and tonight’s indoor event was another big step along that road. He rose to the challenge magnificently.

“This is Pete’s first indoor show so he felt a little bit nervous with the atmosphere which was absolutely buzzing tonight. I was so proud of him, yesterday he was a little bit tense but tonight he felt a bit better, he’s just not got that experience of doing these shows, so I was so pleased with how he dealt with everything here.

“He never lets me down, he tries so hard and he’s a horse I just love to bits, and there’s so much more to come!” she said.

Brilliant night

On a brilliant night for British dressage, Lewis Carrier took the lead with a mark of 76.195 as the second-half of the competition got underway with a lovely performance from the 15-year-old Diego V who was settled, secure and light in his rider’s hands.

Belgium’s Flore de Winne overtook them with the elegant black stallion Flynn FRH who belied his nine years of age with a very polished presentation that earned 77.020. And then French rider Morgan Barbançon squeezed fractionally further ahead when scoring 77.025 with the veteran Sir Donnerhall ll OLD who, at 17, is a full eight years older.

But then Dujardin and Imhotep blew the competition away, consistently scoring 8.5s and 9s, and earning three maximum score of 10 for Choreography and four more for Music and Interpretation. All five judges – Henning Lehrmann (GER), Susanne Baarup (DEN), Andrew Gardner (GBR), Jacques van Daele (BEL) and Magnus Ringmark (SWE) were in complete agreement as they put the pair well out in front.

Next in, 43-year-old Becky Moody wasn’t intimidated however, throwing down a spectacular test with her home-bred nine-year-old gelding Jagerbomb who showed remarkable maturity in the security of his passage and piaffe, and who stormed through extended trot to put 83.675 on the board.

And then, last into the ring, Lottie Fry and Everdale who helped bring home Olympic team bronze in Tokyo and European team silver later in 2021, pushed Moody and her young star ride down to third when scoring 85.040 to decide the final line-up. Everdale is Imhotep’s sire, so it was a horse-family affair at the post-competition prizegiving.


Three women holding champagne glasses.

The Top Three in the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle. (London International Horse Show/Peter Nixon)


Runner-up Fry described the atmosphere in the ExCel arena tonight as “incredible and like no where else!” And she was pleased with her result. “I think this was one of my favourite tests I have ridden. With this new music it was amazing to ride, and Everdale was just brilliant tonight!”, said the Olympic, World and European medal-winning rider.

Talking about her experience tonight, Moody said, “You dream about riding at this show, it is somewhere that we all aspire to compete at. I was incredibly nervous in the build-up and my horse is a legend.

“Being on the podium with Lottie Fry and Charlotte Dujardin is amazing! They both inspire me on a daily basis. They are incredible role models, and it is incredible being sat next to them. But I do have every intention of beating them in the future!”

Dujardin described Moody as “fantastic, it’s been an incredible show for her and it’s great to have her now as a back-up for the team next year,” which is quite some confirmation with Paris 2024 now very much on the horizon.

Talking about her own test tonight, Dujardin said, “The first transitions to piaffe, they could have been a bit better but at the start we didn’t quite get going where I needed him, but then he settled into it and really took it in his stride. But that’s where he’s still a bit green and I’ve only done that floor-plan once before.

“My pirouettes felt fantastic and the degree of difficulty in that test is phenomenal, it’s way beyond a 10! The two’s into the one’s into the piaffe/pirouette, he’s only 10 years old but you ask him a question and he’s answering it. There’s so much to be proud of with him!” she concluded.

The Western European League now moves on to Mechelen, Belgium in two weeks’ time for round six of the 11 qualifiers on the road to the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2024 Final which will be staged in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next April.

Results here.