Valegro Appearing Fitter Than Ever Prepares for 1st Competition in Year

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Valegro led by Charlotte Dujardin coming toward judges and the official veterinarian at the horse inspection for the Hartpury Dressage Festival CDI3* in England this week. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Valegro led by Charlotte Dujardin coming toward judges and the official veterinarian at the horse inspection for the Hartpury Dressage Festival CDI3* in England this week. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

HARTPURY, England, July 7, 2016–Valegro appeared fitter than ever in the veterinary check Thursday for the Hartpury Dressage Festival CDI3*, the first competition in almost a year for the defending Olympic gold medal mount of Charlotte Dujardin.

Looking muscled, with a shiny coat and bright-eyed, the 14-year-old KWPN gelding underwent the the mandatory walk-trot inspection for the Grand Prix Friday and the Freestyle Saturday night that will be to choreography and music specially prepared for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next month.

Valegro (Negro x Gerschwin) was last competed by Charlotte at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany in August, coming away with gold medals for both the individual and freestyle performances.

This correspondent who has witnessed every championship performance by Valegro since the 2011 Euopeans and numerous other competitions throughout Europe and his two appearances in the United States thought the horse looked years younger and fitter than in 2015.

Absence from the competition arena has led to widespread speculation and rumors though those who saw Valegro in Spain in winter reported he looked in very good condition and working well at the time.

Charlotte and Valegro were named this week to the British team along with Carl Hester and Nip Tuck, Fiona Bigwood and Orthilia and Spencer Wilton and Super Nova.

Since the Europeans, Charlotte, who turns 31 years old next week, and Carl Hester, a part-owner and coach, took Valegro to Spain for two weeks over winter to give the horse a change of atmosphere.

Each week, the horse undergoes four days of work under saddle and two trips to the water treadmill at Hartpury College a few minutes from Carl’s Gloucestershire training center.

Charlotte and Valegro were ranked No. 1 in the world for 36 months following the pair’s 2012 Olympic performances in London but have dropped to 46th as only scores from the past 12 months count toward the standings.

Valegro from the rear. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Valegro from the rear. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

All four British team combinations will compete in the CDI3* Grand Prix Friday.

In a national Grand Prix Thursday, Carl Hester rode Wanadoo to victory on a score of 74.78 per cent with Charlotte Dujardin on Barolo second on 73.32 per cent and Katherine Bateson-Chandler of Wellington, Florida on Alcazar third on 70.22 per cent.