The grandstands were packed for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle presented by FFE Generali. Despite the top-quality line-up of riders, it must be said that the whole audience was looking forward to the duel between the star of German dressage, Isabell Werth—the woman with the most Olympic medals in the world, all sports combined—and the British prodigy, Charlotte Dujardin, who yesterday won the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix presented by CREARA with her promising Mount St John Freestyle.
In the first part of the class, the German rider Frederic Wandres on Duke of Britain performed particularly well with a final score of 80.015 percent, giving him the provisional lead; it was not until Werth took to the arena that the 80-percent mark was passed. After a dynamic but controlled performance, Werth—who regularly competes in the Lyon event—achieved a score of 87.090 percent.
The last rider to start was Charlotte Dujardin and she ensured there was total suspense right to the end of the class. Performing to music inspired by The Snow Queen, Carl Hester's student failed to catch her rival. With 83.925 percent, she took second place on the podium of this World Cup stage. "After yesterday's lap of honour, my horse was a little nervous. Today, with the crowd, I think she thought it was another awards ceremony when we came into the arena. My job was to try and reassure her. I felt there were a few mistakes in the arena, but I'm very proud of her. I am convinced that she has a great future and that she will be difficult to beat when she has gained more experience. That's also why I'm on the circuit. I will compete at the Olympia stage in London, which will be a new test, then in Amsterdam at the end of January and, of course, in Vegas with the aim being the FEI Dressage World Cup Final at the end of April," explained Dujardin.
With this new title, Isabell Werth has now won four consecutive titles in Lyon (five in all). "I am really happy and very proud of Emilio. This was the second time I had done Freestyle to Music with this music and I really like this routine. I think we're going in the right direction. I thought it was fantastic that the audience started clapping their hands to the rhythm of the music. It's a really great competition here," said the winner of the day.
Finishing third, the young German rider Frederic Wandres highlighted the high level of the class: "When I saw the list of entrants, I was really impressed and it made me look forward to the event. I am very proud to have finished just behind Isabell Werth and Charlotte Dujardin today. My horse and I have grown and progressed together. Little by little, we have gained experience. Today, he really gave 200 percent. I think we will achieve some great things together."
Of the French riders, Anne-Sophie Serre, who was on great form for her first participation at this level. With a score of 76.180 percent, the rider from Provence obtained the best score among the French participants in the class, ahead of Morgan Barbançon on Sir Donnerhall II Old (76.070 percent) and Stéphanie Brieussel on Amorak (69.735 percent), respectively ninth and thirteenth.
"It was a first for my horse and me to be in such a competition with such renowned riders. I felt like I was thrown into the deep end and was a bit overwhelmed. Actuelle started the Grand Prix at the end of the summer. I know her pretty well because we had her at the age of 5, and I competed with her in the Young Horses classes. She is the horse I started riding with and I hope to go a long way with her," said the French rider.
At the end of the press conference, Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, was delighted with the class and the public's enthusiasm for the event: "First of all, I would like to thank the FEI for placing its confidence in us to organise this stage. I also would like thank our partners, the FFE and Generali, as well as the exceptional riders present at this competition. The stars of dressage marked this stage, but they were not the only ones to shine. I am really pleased that the French riders came to compete here and that in this way we contribute to preparing them for the highest level. Today, we had a record number of visitors at the show. This is the first time in Lyon-Eurexpo's history that the site's car parks have been completely full. This shows how much the public enjoy the dressage events and the event in general. I hope that the riders, the owners and the exhibitors are all happy with the event, and that we can take things to another level in the future."
1. Isabell Werth (GER) and Emilio-87.090 percent
2. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Mount St John Freestyle-83.925 percent
3. Frederic Wandres (GER) and Duke of Britain-80.015 percent