Fry Breaks 90% to Claim Freestyle Gold at Herning 2022
Medal placings are repeat of Grand Prix Special results
Text and photographs by Jennifer O. Bryant
Charlotte, you had me at Queen.
After several Grand Prix Freestyles at the Ecco FEI World Dressage Championships Herning 2022 set to bombastic soundtrack-type music or stuff that sounded like the doldrums of a Scandinavian winter, the newly crowned Grand Prix Special individual gold medalist served notice that hers was not going to be that sort of serious, “deep” freestyle.
Brian May’s unmistakable guitar sound filled Stutteri Ask Stadium as Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry on the 11-year-old KWPN stallion Glamourdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro) passaged into the arena to of Queen’s version of “God Save the Queen.” And when Fry proceeded to piaffe and passage to “Another One Bites the Dust,” well, it was simply brilliant, as the Brits say.
Fry’s David Hunt-designed freestyle was an homage to the British invasion: a medley of pop and rock songs by notable British artists—Queen, of course, and also the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and into a more modern era with the Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” Looping back to the Queen tunes for the finale, Fry’s freestyle had the audience clapping along. Glamourdale’s extended canter elicited gasps of awe as it had two nights ago in the Special, and the pair received a standing ovation. The judges also approved, awarding an overall score of 90.654%, the only 90-plus score of the evening, and with it Fry’s second individual gold medal of these championships.
“I’ve never had that feeling before, going into the arena,” Fry said afterward, “with the crowd going crazy before you even enter.” She said that Glamourdale “knew that it [the stadium] was full, and he needed to show off. And as soon as the music started, it was the most insane feeling: He was dancing to his freestyle. I felt like I could sit there and enjoy it. I was listening to the crowd singing along and getting excited about the extended canter. It was the best feeling in the world. This is exactly what Glamourdale was made for.”
The placings in the GP Freestyle mirrored those of the Special. Again the Danish stars Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour and Vamos Amigos took the silver medal (89.411%), and Dinja van Liere of the Netherlands on Hermès won bronze (86.900%). Laudrup-Dufour played it straight with her music, using fairly serious instrumentals, while van Liere signaled that she’s intent on becoming a big-league player (which she’s obviously achieved here in Herning) with the song “Ready or Not, Here I Come.” Van Liere’s extended canter directly into collected walk got my attention, for sure.
Aboard her new mount the 12-year-old German Sport Horse stallion DSP Quantaz (Quaterback x Hohenstein 4), German superstar Isabell Werth didn’t medal (she finished ninth on 83.339%), but she gets the award as the competitor who had the most fun. Werth was smiling broadly in the last minutes of her routine, and I’m pretty sure she was singing along, too, to a soundtrack featuring “heart themed” 1980s hits including “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Werth performed piaffe pirouettes to Bonnie Tyler’s “Turn around, bright eyes” refrain—inspired!), “Straight from the Heart,” and “Heartache.”
I’m a sucker for a catchy pop/rock tune, so I wanted to get up and dance during Gareth Hughes’ freestyle aboard the 16-year-old KWPN mare Classic Briolinca (Trento B x Royal Dance). A certain lop-eared black mare and her American rider made a Madonna medley famous in the early 2000s, but Hughes and Classic Briolinca’s rendition is a worthy successor to that of Rocher and George Williams. The British pair entered to “Who’s That Girl” and went into hits including “La Isla Bonita” and “Material Girl.” They danced into fifth place on 84.043%.
Placing sixth were the sole US pair, Adrienne Lyle and the Hanoverian stallion Salvino (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall). To their stirring routine including “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” “This Train,” and the Working Girl theme song, Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run,” they put in their best performance in Herning to earn a score of 83.704%.
In her choice of music, Danish team gold medalist Carina Cassøe Krüth expressed her feelings about the championships’ being held in her home country—not through the use of music by Danish artists, actually, but through 1980s American pop songs. She and the 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Heiline’s Danciera (Furstenball x De Niro) entered to “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” then segued to the themes from Flashdance and Fame. In another perfect match of music and choreography, Krüth set a line of two-tempi changes to the chorus of “Footloose.”
I felt bad for Alejandro Sanchez del Barco. The lone Spanish competitor in the GP Freestyle, he was on fire in the early moments of his routine (set to Spanish music, of course) with the 11-year-old PRE stallion Quincallo de Indalo (Esbelto VII x Bandolero LXVII). They blazed across the diagonal in the most outrageous extended trot I’ve ever seen an Iberian horse perform, but then poor Quincallo stumbled. He recovered and finished the ride seemingly unhurt, but the mistake cost them, and they finished fourteenth on 78.386%.