Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro Start 2014 as World No. 1 After Record-Setting Year
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro moved into 2014 as the world’s No. 1 ranked dressage combination, the same way the British pair started the past year that was highlighted by two new world records to complete the Grand Prix hat trick, two European Championship individual gold medals and coming out from under a cloud of uncertainty over their future.
And the KWPN gelding shows no signs of resting on his laurels when he turned 12 years old on New Year’s Day, the official birthday for all horses in the Northern Hemisphere registered with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).
As of Dec. 31, Charlotte and Valegro were atop the FEI rankings for the fifth straight month. Helen Langehanenberg of Germany and Damon Hill NRW were the runner-up combination for the year, according to a calculation by dressage-news.com. Points are awarded for the eight best results over the previous 12 months of competition.
For Charlotte and Valegro (Negro x Gerschwin) 2013 surpassed their 2012 show record if their historic performance of two gold medals at the London Olympic Games was logged as just another event on the calendar.
The partnership started nine times in 2013–twice in Rotterdam and twice at Hickstead on Great Britain’s Nations Cup teams, then three times at the European Championships in Herning Denmark and twice more at London Olympia placing first on every occasion to keep going a string of 18 victories. The last time the pair finished out of first was in the Grand Prix and the Freestyle in Florida in January, 2012, their only performances outside Europe in three years at the Big Tour level.
Along with the medals and the placings in 2013 came world records of 85.942 per cent in the Grand Prix in Herning on Aug. 22 and 93.975 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle at London Olympia on Dec. 17. The pair already owned the record of 88.022 per cent for the Grand Prix Special posted at Hagen, Germany on April 29, 2012.
Edward Gal, who held all three records on the superstar stallion Totilas, was gracious in acknowledging the accomplishment by the British pair. The Freestyle was the last of the three marks to change and that occurred exactly four years and one day after Edward and Totilas posted their result at the same London Olympia hall decorated for Christmas.
Just two weeks later, Carl Hester, part-owner of Valegro, mentor and coach to the 28-year-old Charlotte, confirmed that the horse was officially off the sales market and financial backers were being sought to fund championship performances for Britain.
The World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France next summer provide an opportunity for Charlotte and Valegro to do what Edward and Totilas could not because the stallion was sold after the 2010 WEG in Kentucky–sweep both Olympic and WEG gold medals.