Great Britain’s Lottie Fry and her superstar stallion Glamourdale won the eleventh and last leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League at the Dutch Masters in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED).
On an afternoon that proved challenging for a number of horse-and-rider combinations, the reigning double-individual world champions quickly recovered after a surprising moment of discord during canter half-pass to post the winning score of 86.835. The Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere (Hermes NOP) finished second ahead of Germany’s Isabell Werth (Emilio) and Benjamin Werndl (Famoso OLD) in third and fourth places, while the exciting new Dutch combination of Marieke van der Putten and Torveslettens Titanium finished fifth.
There were nine places up for grabs for the 2023 series Final which kicks off in Omaha, USA on 4 April and, finishing sixth on the leaderboard, Fry has made the cut. However, the 27-year-old athlete could not confirm if she will take the busy breeding stallion, with which she won individual double-gold at the ECCO FEI World Championships last summer, across the Atlantic in three weeks’ time. “I’m not sure, but we will make plans shortly,” she said.
There was plenty for the Dutch crowd to get excited about, including a lovely performance from their own Marlies van Baalen and Habibi DVB who took the lead just before the halfway break. The 13-year-old chestnut gelding looked supremely chilled and confident as he strutted his way to a score of 79.360 on only his third Freestyle outing at this level.
Finland’s Emma Kanerva posted a personal best to overtake the Dutch pair, putting 79.505 on the board with Greek Air when the action resumed and then, fourth-last to go, Germany’s Werndl reset the target with Famoso OLD who swaggered his way to the first over-80% mark of the day, scoring 82.760, which was always going to put them in the frame.
However, van Liere and Hermes NOP, double-bronze medallists at last year’s World Championship, bettered that. Starting out with sensational passage/piaffe and the most wonderful rhythm, they looked set to really blow the lid off the competition. But the 13-year-old stallion became increasingly tense, and they finished on a mark of 83.375 – less than the 87.055 they posted to win on home ground in Amsterdam in January, but good enough to temporarily take the lead.
“Hermes gets more excited when there is a lot of people, but I am still very happy about our progress together and where we are going. He can be very good in piaffe/passage which I think were my best ever today. I need to get him more quiet in the canter now,” said Dinja van Liere.
Out in front
Fry and Glamourdale followed them into the ring and it was quickly clear that their score was going to put them out in front, especially after earning 10s across the board for their first extended canter and 9.3 for lovely two-tempi changes. But the stallion suddenly shook his head and spooked during the canter half-pass, and although he quickly regained his equilibrium, the lost points left the pair with a final tally of 86.835, well below the 90.995 they posted when winning in London last Christmas.
“It was a shame, because he did some of his very best work today!” Fry said afterwards. “It is a big arena with a lot of atmosphere and he came back and we finished well, so I am happy tonight!”
That big atmosphere also seemed to get to Werth’s 15-year-old gelding Emilio, who threw in some hijinks before they entered the arena to score 82.670, which would leave them in third.
“He went on fire when Lottie’s result came up!” Werth explained. “I was very satisfied with the first part, but I lost him a little in the canter work, which is a shame as I there lost the possibility to compete with Lottie. But it was a great atmosphere here today and at the end this is what counts,” pointed out the lady who knows more about atmosphere than most.
She is heading to her 23rd FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final this year, having won five of them since they were first staged back in 1986. She will take the stallion DSP Qantaz with which she claimed top points at both Lyon (FRA) and Basel (SUI) this season, when finishing second behind compatriot and defending World Cup champions Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the mare TSF Dalera on both occasions.
Because she is automatically qualified, von Bredow-Werndl didn’t need to pick up points throughout this season, and the final Western European League table shows Werth on top followed by compatriot Ingrid Klimke in second, van Liere in third, Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald in fourth, and Benjamin Werndl – Jessica’s brother – in fifth place. Fry lies sixth ahead of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel in seventh, The Netherlands’ Thamar Zweistra is in eighth place, and Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg slotted into ninth spot.
However, with only three athletes from any NF permitted to compete at the Final, neither Benjamin Werndl nor former double-champion Langehanenberg will travel. French rider Morgan Barbançon and Germany’s Frederic Wandres share tenth place and the Dutch duo of Emmelie Scholtens and Marieke van der Putten holds the next two places. There are still some matters to be settled before the final touches are put to the start-list for the 35th FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final is decided.
by Louise Parkes