Charlotte Dujardin “the New Isabell… the New Future of Dressage” –Carl Hester – Part 2
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June 8, 2017
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Charlotte Dujardin, in the view of her mentor, coach and team mate Carl Hester, will be “the new Isabell” Werth and the “new future” for dressage although the rider who turns 32 years old next month has not competed internationally since the retirement of Valegro after the 2016 Olympic Games.
Carl has the experience at 50 years old at the end of this month to make that judgment as his own career path has pretty much mirrored that of the German superstar. He has ridden for Great Britain at five Olympics, three World Games, eight European Championships and two World Cup Finals.
Charlotte has had amazing success since joining Carl’s team–getting the ride on a nine-year-old KWPN gelding part-owned by Carl in 2011 but also competing other horses in his stable, including Fernandez.
Five months later the horse, Valegro, had earned team gold medal at the European Championships in Rotterdam.
A year later, Charlotte and Valegro led Great Britain to team gold and the nation’s first Olympic dressage medal in a century of the Games, capping the performance with individual gold at home.
By the time the pair wrapped up their competition career, they had competed in another Olympics, in 2016, three European Championships and a World Equestrian Games for a total of 10 gold medals, three silvers and one bronze.
Charlotte competed other horses–Fernandez, Tatler, Uthopia that had been Carl’s mount at the 2012 London Games, and Barolo, none in championships but team silver on Fernandez at the highly competitive CDIO5* Nations Cup at Aachen, Germany in 2011. While some of those horses have gone elsewhere, she has also been building a stable of younger horses.
Carl has identified Mount St. John Freestyle, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by British breeder Emma Blundell who operates the Mount St. John stud, as the most likely prospect for Charlotte to take to the 2018 Tryon World Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She has others, though.
In addition to Barolo, there’s the seven-year-old KWPN mare Florentina; MSJ VIP, a six-year-old Oldenburg mare also owned by Mt. South John, and Gio, the six-year-old she found during a master class in California.
“I imagine no one has any doubt that Charlotte will produce more horses,” Carl told dressage-news.com in a recent interview.
“She is Isabell Werth 20 years back. That’s the great thing. When I look at Charlotte, it’s like: ‘you are the new Isabell.’ She will do that. I watch her working.”
That’s quite an accolade, he’s asked, and a lot of pressure.
“It is an accolade, and that’s what I put on her, not what the world puts on her. It’s just me.”
But she has more respect for you than anyone else….
“Yes, but I’m saying that myself not what the rest of the world says. It’s not pressure because she and I work together at home.
“But I’m very proud of the fact that having been brought up with Isabell—I’m the same age as Isabell—I’ve been near her watching her develop to where she is.
“I’m also very lucky to see that Charlotte is the new future… That’s what my hope is for her, I can see what we have at home and I can see in two or three years time she’s going to be in the same position, hopefully, all being well, being the future of our sport.”
There are similarities and differences between Charlotte and Isabell, both of whom have birthdays next month, Isabell turning 48 and Charlotte 32.
Both had horses so talented to launch careers.
Isabell rode in her first championship, the Europeans, at 20 years old but two years later was on the German team with Gigolo.
Gigolo was eight years old when the 22-year-old Isabell rode the Hanoverian gelding in the Europeans in 1991. By the end of Gigolo’s competition career at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the pair had been in three Olympics winning six medals that still stands as the record for a single horse; four European Championships and two World Equestrian Games. The total number of medals for the pair was a staggering 16 gold and two silvers.
Isabell went on to win a total of 10 Olympic medals, six gold, more than any other equestrian in Olympic history; seven gold and two bronze at World Games and 14 gold, three silver and one bronze at European Championships.
With Weihegold OLD, she is ranked No. 1 in the world and has two other horses in the top 10 of global standings, Isabell has made it clear she’s nowhere near ready to end her career.
The first championship success for Charlotte and Valegro was team gold at the 2011 European Championships.
Over the next five years, the pair brought the total number of medals to 10 gold, three silver and one bronze at two Olympics, one World Games and three European Championships. They also won the World Cup in 2014 and 2015 as well as setting world records in the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle that still stand.
Comparisons of the two leading ladies don’t seem apt. In addition to history and culture, the revolution of digital communications makes events instantly available on streaming video anywhere in the world–not the case two decades ago.
Charlotte, perhaps more than any other top rider, has brought the digital image to life with a lineup of events from the ultimate celebrity glamor appearance with Valegro at Central Park in the heart of New York City to sold out master classes around the world.
As Carl points out, Germany has been a powerhouse with the heritage, breeding, background, quality and training that has put the the country at the top of dressage for decades and “beyond what the rest of us have so they have a huge head start.”
“The rest of us have all learned from it and take from it,” he said. “I love what British breeding is doing… Denmark, Sweden. Expect to see Denmark as an emerging talent because of what they’ve purchased and how they’re breeding. That’s exciting because it opens up each nation to be more competitive.”
The British-bred Woodlander Farouche ridden by Michael Eilberg to the five, six and seven-year-old world championships “made it more like,’ Wow! It can happen in England’,” Carl said. He also pointed to Hawtins Delacarto, the British-bred horse he is aiming for the 2018 World Games in Tryon and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I see it as a constant push to the top. Everyone’s going to keep going, no one is being left behind. Germany has so much more depth in the culture of their breeding than the rest of the world, and riding that does keep pushing itself to the top.”
What’s happening in Britain and other nations makes for an “exciting future for dressage,” Carl said.