For the second time this season, Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry and Everdale left the opposition in their wake at the eighth leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED).
In the Grand Prix, they had pinned Germany’s Isabell Werth and DSP Quantaz into second place and longtime league-leader Sweden’s Patrik Kittel into third with Touchdown. But this time they did it all again with a wider winning margin that left them well clear of the rest of the field.
Fry has now moved comfortably into third place on the Western European League table from which the top nine will qualify for the Final in Riyadh (KSA) in April.
“I’m still taking it in I guess; to win here in Amsterdam is kind of a dream – especially with such a competitive field of horses and riders! Everdale has been feeling so good the last two days and I’ve had two really great rides, so I couldn’t really ask for more!” she said.
The 15-strong starting field was filled with exciting talent from first to last, and judges Isobel Wessels (GBR), Patricia Wolters (NED), Mariette Sanders-van Gansewinkel (NED), Raphael Saleh (FRA), and Maria Colliander (FIN) had the Dutch partnership of Marieke van der Putten and the 12-year-old Totilas gelding Torveslettens Titanium RS2 NOP out in front at the halfway stage on a score of 79.725.
Second to go after the interval, however, Belgium’s Flore de Winne and Flynn FRH took the lead when posting 80.315. This pair has been showing great promise this season, de Winne’s quiet balance helping the 10-year-old stallion sparkle, as he continues to learn his trade while presenting a pleasing picture.
Next in, multiple gold medallist Werth opened up the whole competition with big marks from the outset with Quantaz, whose score of 86.455 was never going to be easy to overtake. The enthusiastic crowd loved the German star’s trademark punchy performance and rose to their feet in appreciation as the five-time FEI Dressage World Cup™ title-winner pranced out of the arena at the end of her test with a big smile and a wave.
Fry followed with an imperfect first halt, but the scores started piling up for piaffe/passage and rock-solid flying changes, and boosted by four 10s for Choreography and five more for Music and Interpretation, they pushed the new target score up to 88.180, which proved impossible to better.
Sweden’s Kittel posted 84.905 for third place, despite a muddled moment when he dropped his reins early in the test, and when the Danish duo of Nanna Skodborg Merrald with Blue Hors Don Olymbrio and Carina Cassøe Krüth with Heiline’s Danciera posted 84.030 and 82.905, they slotted into fourth and fifth places, respectively, Belgium’s de Winne sealing sixth spot at the end of the day.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic partners, Fry and Everdale, have been enjoying a really consistent run of form, having also won the sixth leg of the Western European League in Mechelen (BEL) in December, just two weeks after finishing second in London (GBR). This result has firmly sealed a qualifying spot for the Dutch-based Briton at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2024 in Riyadh (KSA) in April, but with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on the horizon, there is no perfect plan in place just yet.
“Everdale is going to have a small break now. There are a lot of stallion shows coming up and then hopefully we will go to Den Bosch (s’Hertogenbosch NED) and then do the outdoor season with Glamourdale, so we will see how it all works out,” said the rider who with her other superstar stallion, Glamourdale, took double-gold at the FEI Dressage World Championship in 2022.
At the post competition press conference, there was much talk about the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and when asked which horse she intends to bring, Fry wouldn’t commit herself – “I’m very lucky to have two really top horses at the moment so we will see!” she replied.
Meanwhile, when asked if she expects to be in Paris, Werth modestly replied, “It’s not so easy to get in a team, especially in Germany or Great Britain. There are only three to go and I will try my best and we will see!”
Spoiled for choice
Kittel, who has long led the Western European League standings, admits he is spoiled for choice when it comes to horses for both the World Cup Final and the Paris Games.
“I’m lucky because I have a couple of horses in the World Cup, and I can do more shows without having to ride so much on each horse, which is very good. For me that’s like a big bonus at the moment,” he explained. But he takes nothing for granted.
Where Paris is concerned, he said, “I think for every rider, the Olympic Games is something we always dream of but it’s always in the stars. The day you are there and you’ve done your test and you say thank you to the judges – that’s the day you know you’ve ridden in an Olympics!” he pointed out.
by Louise Parkes