Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro Score 90% With New Freestyle at Hartpury CDI3*

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The British dressage team of Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer and individual Richard Davison. © 2012 Kevin Sparrow for dressage/news.com

HARTPURY, England, July 8–Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro debuted their new freestyle three weeks before the Olympics and scored more than 90 per cent at Hartpury CDI3* before a standing room only home crowd Saturday night.

Many spectators cried openly with emotion and gave the pair a standing ovation at the end of the sensational performance that received a mark of 90.65 per cent, the highest score ever awarded to a British due and less than two percentage points away from the world record of 92.30 per cent set by Edward Gal and Totilas in London in December, 2009.

Charlotte and Valegro, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Negro x Maifleur x Gerschwin) already took the world record Grand Prix Special from Edward and Totilas when they scored 88.022 per cent at Hagen, Germany in April.

Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris, who will be a team mate of Charlotte at the London Olympics, had held the previous British freestyle record. Carl Hester, an owner of Valegro, will be the third team member on Uthopia.

The victory was by a margin of almost 15 per cent over Canada’s Ashley Holzer with Breaking Dawn on 75.925 per cent with Michael Eilberg and Half Moon Delphi third on 72.05 per cent on the horse’s freestyle debut.

The Tom Hunt-composed Briish patriotic music score had the crowd captivated as Charlotte and Valegro put in a mistake-free test.

Pirouettes to the chimes of Big Ben and piaffe to the theme tune of ‘The Great Escape’ were highlights for many.

Four of the five judges awarded artistic marks of more than 93 per cent, including 97 per cent  from Eduard De Wolff Van Westerorode of the Netherlands, while Poland’s Wojteck Markowski awarded one of his highest ever scores. British ‘O’ judge Andrew Gardner praised the pair after the ride.

“It was breathtaking,” he said. “For a judge to be able to award a 10 for such a range of movements from piaffe to extended trot endorses the caliber of the talent that we have in front of us. It was an absolute privilege to give so many tens.”

Charlotte’s mentor and trainer Carl Hester was delighted with his protégée’s work.

“They nailed it!” he said. “All the practice at home has paid off and I feel we have a true Olympic caliber freestyle that the whole nation can be proud of. Tom has done an amazing job with the music and Charlotte and I just love it. There’s a little bit more tweaking to be done but roll on Greenwich–we’ll be ready!”

Grand Prix Freestyle results

FEI GP Freestyle