Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro Start Olympic Year As World No. 1 for 4th Straight Year

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Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro adorned with gold medal, sashes and winner's rug as European individual champions. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro adorned with gold medal, sashes and winner’s rug as European individual champions. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Jan. 1, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro start the Olympic year of 2016 as No. 1 in the world for the fourth year in a row, more than any other horse and rider since the current system of global standings was introduced a decade ago.

Charlotte and Valegro, a KWPN gelding that officially turned 14 years old on New Year’s Day, were undefeated in nine starts in 2015 that included the second World Cup title for the pair as well as European Championships individual gold medal.

The coming year, according to Carl Hester, part-owner of Valegro and coach and mentor of Charlotte, will likely be the last in the show ring for the pair, competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in summer and what will surely be a monumental farewell performance at home at London Olympia at Christmas.

Charlotte, 30 years old, and Valegro ended 2015 at the top of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rankings to be released officially in the next few days, as the pair did in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH, the Hanoverian stallion that officially became 15 years old New Year’s day, moved up to No. 2 in the world at the end of July, their highest ranking ever. The pair consolidated their position taking individual silver at the European Championships a month later.

Kristina, 29 years old, and Desperados, had an unbroken string of nine victories in 2015 ahead of the Europeans.

The pair began their international Grand Prix partnership in 2011 and a year later were on Germany’s Olympic silver medal team followed by team gold at the World Games two years later and European Championships in 2013 and 2015.

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH performing their best ever Grand Prix Freestyle to win the European Championship individual silver medal. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH performing their best ever Grand Prix Freestyle to win the European Championship individual silver medal. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

In the 10 years since the current ranking system was introduced, the year-end winners were always Dutch until Charlotte and Valegro–Anky van Grunsven and Salinero in 2006, 2007 and 2008; Edward Gal and Totilas in 2009 and 2010, and Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival in 2011. Germany’s Isabell Werth was No. 1 on two horses but not at the end of a year.

In the past 10 years, only six combinations have been No, 1.

Charlotte and Valegro have have held the top spot 36 months starting after the duo’s historic team and individual gold medals at the Olympics in London in 2012. To the end of 2015, the pair held the No. 1 position for 27 months straight, the longest continuous run of any combination in the past decade.

Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro celebrating successful defense of their World Cup title in Las Vegas. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro celebrating successful defense of their World Cup title in Las Vegas. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Anky van Grunsven and Salinero were at the top of the standings for a total of 29 months with some breaks, Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival 22 months, Edward Gal and Totilas 19 months and Isabell Werth on Satchmo for 11 months and Warum Nicht FRH for three months.

However, under the system in effect before 2006 only riders were ranked with greater weight given to championship results. Anky was No. 1 at the end of 2004 and 2005, a period in which she rode Salinero to gold at the Athens Olympics and the European Championships as well as capturing the World Cup title both years.

Last year was the second time Charlotte and Valegro were undefeated in competition, the other being 2013 when the pair also started nine times. Though the combination did not finish first on two occasions in 2014, they won 10 times.