Fry Flies to Gold in Individual Grand Prix Special
The “other Charlotte,” Great Britain’s newest superstar, won’t be confused with Dujardin from now on
Text and photographs by Jennifer O. Bryant
In all my years of watching dressage competition, never have I heard an audience gasp in amazement at an extended canter.
Then again, those other crowds weren’t at the Ecco FEI World Dressage Championships Herning 2022, and they weren’t watching Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry practically levitate aboard Van Olst Horses’ 11-year-old KWPN stallion, Glamourdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro).
The petite Fry looks younger than her 26 years, and visually she’s an unlikely match for the beefy 16.3-hand breeding stallion. But “Lottie” finesses Glamourdale the way a fighter pilot guides an F-18, and when she swung the black stallion onto the runway, he hit the afterburners and launched himself across the diagonal as if he truly were go for takeoff. The air time, stride length, and upward trajectory were extraordinary.
Fry’s powerful, brilliant, accurate test bested the other 28 in today’s Grand Prix Special individual medal final (the top 30 horse/rider combinations from the Grand Prix qualify to advance to the Special, but Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain FRH scratched). One of two riders to break the 80% mark, Fry won the GP Special individual gold medal on a score of 82.508%.
“He was just incredible,” Fry said afterward of her mount. “He gave me the most incredible feeling throughout the test. He was trying his hardest and doing everything I asked.”
Fry first rode Glamourdale as a six-year-old, and the gifted youngster won the FEI World Championships for Young Dressage Horses the following year.
“He’s so special, and the feeling he gives is the same feeling he gave when he was six: The sky is the limit,” Fry said. “He just keeps getting better and better, and stronger. I have no words. The horse is one in a million. And there’s so much we can improve, it’s almost scary: He’s this amazing, yet we feel like we can keep improving.”
She described Glamourdale as a “showman” who thrives on excitement and loves attention and adoration from an audience of any size.
A missed two-tempi change cost yesterday’s team gold medalists from Denmark, Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour on Vamos Amigos, a chance at gold in the Special. Their otherwise accurate and harmonious test put Laudrup-Dufour on the silver-medal podium, on a score of 81.322%.
The GP Special bronze medal went to yet another set of international newcomers, the Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere and the 10-year-old KWPN stallion Hermès (Easy Game x Flemmingh). The pair delivered a powerful test distinguished by Hermès’ flamboyant movement and one spook at an FEI television camera, which resulted in a score of 79.407%.
Two US combinations advanced to the GP Special. The Hanoverian stallion Salvino (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall) was back in top form with his rider of seven years, Adrienne Lyle. With their hallmark seamless transitions and painstaking attention to tempo and accuracy, they earned the best US placing, finishing ninth on 75.699.
Lyle looked visibly relieved and elated afterward, saying that Salvino is unhappy when he makes a mistake as he did in yesterday’s Grand Prix: “He doesn’t like that he got his legs tangled up.” But she’d obviously done a masterful job of restoring “Vinny’s” confidence, and “he felt very honest, very regular,” she said. “He felt like a metronome, and I was just able to sit there.”
The achievement was even more impressive considering that “It’s the first Special we’ve ridden since I did the five-star [CDI] in February,” Lyle said. “I was really happy with him. He felt even better than he did in the Grand Prix: a little bit looser, and more able to show himself off in the piaffe and passage today.
Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper had a couple of unfortunate mistakes. “Mopsie” got a little overeager in one transition from passage to extended trot, breaking into a canter; later, the 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Spielberg x Krack C) had some loss of balance during the difficult transition from passage to canter crossing center line—a transition that challenged a few other competitors, as well. But the rest of the test was fluid and expressive, and they finished seventeenth on 73.708%.
Peters was disappointed in the score but remained philosophical.
“The judges saw it very differently, but that’s OK,” he said afterward. “That’s a part of the game, and I certainly accept it.”
The head of the ground jury, Mariette Sanders-van Gansewinkel of the Netherlands, eliminated Australian pair Lyndal Oatley and Eros for what the judge termed unevenness. A relieved Oatley later reported that the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Sir Oldenburg x Olympic Ferro) had been checked out thoroughly and was sound and OK. She attributed the issue to tension and fatigue, the aftermath of the previous day’s Grand Prix.
In the FEI World Championships format, two sets of individual medals are awarded: one for the Grand Prix Special, and another for the Grand Prix Freestyle. As the Grand Prix served as the qualifier for the Special, so does the Special serve as the qualifier for the Freestyle. The top 15 from the Special will dance their freestyles in the sold-out final dressage event of Herning 2022 the evening of Wednesday, August 10, following a well-deserved rest day tomorrow. In addition to Fry, Laudrup-Dufour, van Liere, and Lyle, the combinations we’ll see on freestyle day are (in order of placing in the Special) Isabell Werth/DSP Quantaz of Germany, Benjamin Werndl/Famoso OLD of Germany, Charlotte Dujardin/Imhotep of Great Britain, Gareth Hughes/Classic Briolinca of Great Britain, Daniel Bachmann Andersen/Marshall-Bell of Denmark, Patrik Kittel/Touchdown of Sweden, Juliette Ramel/Buriel K.H. of Sweden, Carina Cassøe Krüth/Heiline’s Danciera of Denmark, Therese Nilshagen/Dante Weltino OLD of Sweden, Emmelie Scholtens/Indian Rock of the Netherlands, and Alejandro Sanchez del Barco/Quincallo de Indalo of Spain.