The annual London International Horse Show got underway at the Olympia Exhibition Hall in London’s West Kensington on December 16, 2013. It is the 106th year of the colorful event which plays hosts to the world-class equestrian action, including Dressage, Show Jumping and Extreme Carriage Driving. Olympia Horse Show, one of Europe’s oldest equine competitions, celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2007 but this is the first time in the history of London’s premier horse show that the three reigning world champions are competing in different equine events. They are Dressage superstar Charlotte Dujardin, show jumping champion Scott Brash and Carriage Driving legend Boyd Exell.
The Show began on Monday, December 16th with Dressage, which continued until the 17th night. These two days clearly belonged to the Equestrian queen Charlotte Dujardin, who is an amazing woman and so is her wonder horse Valegro. She excels in a sport, which is gender independent. This means Dujardin’s fellow competitors can either be females or males. But no challenge is too big for Charlotte Dujardin, the double Olympic champion in the equestrian events of her choice. On the opening day, Olympic and European dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin carried on with her unbeaten 20-month long streak in style with Valegro. She scored an easy victory in the Grand Prix set test scoring 84.85%. In spite of a few minor errors, she finished four points ahead of the Dutch Edward Gal, who rode Glock’s Undercover. The third place was taken by another Dutch, Danielle Heijkoop, riding on Kingsley Siro.
Dujardin and Valegro were making their first international competitive appearance after they took part in the European championships in Denmark. Dujardin’s horse Valegro has his own fan following and lots of People wanted to take his photographs. This probably distracted him in the early stages of the Grand Prix set and he got just 3 points out of 10 from one judge. The judge was apparently displeased with undue fluffing from Valegro. But that didn’t affect the final outcome for Dujardin, who said in her horse’s praise that Valegro is much like a film celebrity and his fans don’t get to see much of him elsewhere.
On Tuesday December 17, 2013, Dujardin broke a 4-year old world record for the freestyle-to-music score set at Olympia by Edward Gal with former wonder-horse Totilas. She and Valegro thus completed a hat-trick of world records after winning the London stage of the dressage World Cup in Olympia. The 28-year-old Dujardin had a marvelous time as she and Valegro excelled in winning the Grand Prix freestyle event with a world record score of 93.975%. With this victory Dujardin completed a treble as she had already won the individual and team gold medals at the London Olympics last year. This was a treble for Valegro too, who was her companion at the Olympics as well. Charlotte Dujardin, who now holds the records in all elements of equestrian, is the first British player to complete such feat. In Tuesday’s event, Dujardin was challenged by Edward Gal riding Glock’s Voice and Hans Peter Minderhoud riding Glock’s Romanov, both from the Netherlands. Edward Gal and Peter are known as regular visitors to Olympia. Incidentally, Edward Gal was the last rider, who held all three records at once. The previous best freestyle score set by Gal was 92.30% with Totilas in 2009. On Tuesday, however, Gal finished way behind Dujardin to take the second place with 87.425%. Less than 24 hours later, the British Equestrian Writers’ Association named Valegro as the horse of the year for the second consecutive year.
The next few days at the London Show will feature Show jumping and Extreme Carriage Driving. In Show Jumping all eyes will be locked on Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Ben Maher and Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum. These are the top three in world in that order. On the 19th and 20th December, the focus will shift to Extreme Carriage Driving in which six top-ranked drivers are expected to participate. The equestrian lovers can see players of top caliber in the dutch trio of Koos de Ronde, IJsbrand Chardon and Theo Timmerman and Germany’s Schneiders and Michael Brauchle. But the most sought after performance is likely to come from double world gold medalist, and four time World Champion Boyd Exell of Australia. Exell is the reigning champion in the FEI driver standings. In this category, the lone entry from Great Britain is also the only female and she is Georgina Hunt, the seven times National Pony Team Champion.