Charlotte & Valegro, Britain’s Hope for 1st World Cup Title, Could Move Closer to Individual Grand Slam

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Helen Langehanenberg and Charlotte Dujardin together on a medals podium. © 2013 Ken Braddick/
Helen Langehanenberg and Charlotte Dujardin together on a medals podium. © 2013 Ken Braddick/

April 14, 2014


Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro have a chance this week to capture Great Britain’s first ever World Cup and put the pair just one event from an individual Grand Slam of the globe’s four major dressage titles–Olympics, world championships, World Cup and European championships.

Only one rider has achieved the quadruple sweep–the legendary Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands, and she did it on two different horses, Bonfire and Salinero, since the World Cup was first held in 1986 to complete the lineup of championships.

First, though, Charlotte and Valegro have to beat defending World Cup champion Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW as well as the other 16 combinations in Lyon, France this weekend. If successful, the British pair would head to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France four months later to try to complete the Grand Slam.

Charlotte and the 12-year-old KWPN gelding captured the single individual gold medal in addition to the team award at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and then collected both Grand Prix Special and Freestyle individual gold medals at the Europeans in Herning, Denmark last year.

The World Cup of Dressage. © 2013 Ken Braddick/
The World Cup of Dressage that Helen Langehanenberg and Charlotte Dujardin will compete for on Saturday. © Ken Braddick/

Riders in the Americas compete in only three Grand Prix championships–the Olympics, World Games and World Cup–but that will change in 2015 when the Pan American Games will include Grand Prix combinations, not just small tour. Two Americans, Debbie McDonald on Brentina and Steffen Peters on Ravel, have won World Cup titles and the United States has dominated the Pan Ams.

If Helen and Damon Hill succeed in defending the tile the pair won in 2013, she will bring to nine the World Cup titles won by five German riders on six different horses (Isabell Werth on Fabienne in 1992 and Warum Nicht FRH in 2007) to match the same number Anky alone captured (five times on Bonfire and four times on Salinero).

The results of the Grand Pix Musical Freestyle on Sunday that decide the annual global dressage championship are not pre-ordained from the starting lineup of 18 combinations from 11 nations.

For the record, though, Helen and the 14-year-old stallion began competing at international Grand Prix in November, 2010 and Charlotte and Valegro four months later.

Before this week, they competed against each other at only three shows.

At the European Championships in 2011, the British pair were fourth in the Grand Prix, sixth in the Special and ninth in the Freestyle. The German couple were eighth in the Freestyle, the only time that Helen and Damon Hill placed ahead, but finished 14th in the Grand Prix and eighth in the Special.

In both competitions since then, Charlotte and Valegro have placed first–team and individual gold at the 2012 Olympics then first in all three Grand Prix contests at the 2013 Europeans. Helen and Damon Hill were third in the Grand Prix and fourth in the Special and the Freestyle at London and the runnerup to the British combination in all three tests at the 2013 Europeans.

The 28-year-old Charlotte and Valegro hold all three world records at Grand Prix level:
Grand Prix-85.942% set at Herning, Denmark Aug. 22, 2013
Grand Prix Special-88.022% set at Hagen, Germany April 29, 2012
Grand Prix Freestyle-93.975% set at London Olympia Dec. 17, 2013

How did the different combinations get to the World Cup Final in Lyon?

AUS Australia
HANNA, Mary Sancette – 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Sandro Hit x Contender) won the Pacific League Final in Australia last November with 71.825%, their best result in almost two years
DEN Denmark
GUNDERSEN, Mikala Münter My Lady – 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare by Michellino best result was 76.775% in Wellington, Florida in March
MERRALD, Nanna Skodborg Millibar – 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Milan x Liberty Dane) four qualifiers with a high of 78.325% at Odense, Denmark in October
PETERSEN, Lars Mariett – 16-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Come Back II x Sidney) with a best result of 79.950% in Wellington, Florida in March
FRA France
BOBLET, Marc Noble Dream Concept Sol – 12-year-old Oldenburg mare by Caprimond 76.350% at London Olympia in December was the highest of three qualifying score
GBR Great Britain
DU JARDIN, Charlotte Valegro – 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Negro x Gerschwin) competed in two of eight Western European League qualifiers, London Olympia in December to set a Freestyle would record of 93.975% and 91.275% at Amsterdam in January
GER Germany
BREDOW- WERNDL, Jessica von Unee BB – 13-year-old KWPN stallion (Gribaldi x Dageraad) best two results were 82.425% at Neumünster, Germany in February and 81.350% at Göteborg, Sweden in March
LANGEHANENBERG, Helen Damon Hill NRW – 14-year-old Westfalen stallion (Donnerhall x Rubinstein I) two competitions to qualify, both in Germany, 89.775% in Stuttgart in November and 90.375% in Neumünster in February
WERTH, Isabell El Santo NRW – 13-year-old Rhinelander gelding (Ehrentusch x Rythmus) competed in two qualifiers with the best result 83.125% at Stuttgart in November
KOR South Korea
KIM, Dong-Seon Bukowski – 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Briar x Junius XX) competed three World Cup qualifiers in the United States with a top score of 70.150% at Saugerties, New York in September
NED Netherlands
GAL, Edward Glock’s Undercover – 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Ferro x Donnerhall) three competitions to qualify – 87.425% at London Olympia in December, 85.125% in Amsterdam in January and 86.700% at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in March
HEIJKOOP, Danielle Kingsley Siro – 15-year-old KWPN gelding (Gribaldi x Hemmingway) three qualifying shows with highest score of 80.625% at London Olympia in December
MINDERHOUD, Hans Peter Glock’s Johnson TN – 12-year-old Dutch stallion (Jazz x Flemmingh) three qualifiers with the highest score 78.350% at Neumünster in February
RUS Russian Federation
MERKULOVA, Inessa Mister X – 10-year-old Trakehner gelding by Egeus top result in two qualifiers in Central European League was 72.300% at Minsk in October
SUI Switzerland
KRINKE SUSMELJ, Marcela Smeyers Lazander – 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Solos Landtinus x Lebensmann) competed in four events in the Central and Western European Leagues with their best result 75.500% at Stuttgart in November
SWE Sweden
VILHELMSSON SILFVÉN, Tinne Don Auriello – 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Don Davidoff x White Star) four qualifying competitions to top Western European League, 80.075% at Odense in October; 82.325% at Stuttgart in November, 81.950% at Stockholm in December and 81.55% in Wellington, Florida in January
USA United States of America
KONYOT, Tina Calecto V – 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion (Come Back II x Rastell) top result from two qualifiers in North American League was 77.975% in Wellington, Florida in March
PARRA, Cesar Van The Man – 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Obelisk x Landjonker) in four qualifying competitions in NAL top result was 74.000% at Wellington in March

As a championship, the ground jury comprises seven members and three for the Judges Suprvisory Panel. They are:

Ground Jury–President, Jean-Michel Roudier of France; Members, Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode, Netherlands; Gary Rockwell, United States; Thomas Lang, Austria; Evi Eisenhard, Germany; Leif Toernblad, Denmark; Jacques van Daele, Belgium and Maribel Alonso de Quinzaños, Mexico (reserve).
Judges Supervisory Panel-Eric LETTE, Sweden; Mary Seefried, Australia and Henk van Bergen, Netherlands.