Friday 12th of April 2024
The Gaitpost

“The Dujardin effect” produces a sell-out Olympia

By Eleanore Kelly

 

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 “The Olympics may be the highlight of my career but I just love coming to Olympia” Charlotte Dujardin told The Gaitpost at a press conference in London this week. “The feeling you get riding in that arena is like nowhere else. It’s immense, you ride in and you can literally feel the crowd on top of you. You can feel them breathing and almost wanting to touch you as you go around the outside. For me it is always such a fantastic show.” Indeed The London International Horse Show has always been happy hunting ground for Charlotte and Valegro who will be making their first appearance together in front of a home crowd this year, having smashed the Freestyle world record there last year.

 

It is fair to say that Charlotte has become “hot property” since the London Olympics and may be part of the reason why tickets for the Dressage Freestyle on Wednesday 17th December sold out within weeks of the Olympia box office opening in May. Charlotte explains she still finds her celebrity status “surreal”. “Especially when people are crying when they meet Valegro and I. For me it’s fantastic that I can be such a huge inspiration for people to either take up the sport or carry on with the sport or just follow it.”

 

“Olympia has been one of my favourite shows from when I was a child” said Charlotte. “I would come and watch the show and dream of being in that arena. Since then I have had a wish list of three goals. One was to ride on a team with Carl, the second was to get to the Olympics and the third was to ride at Olympia and I had achieved all of those in the first two year of my career. It’s crazy!”

 

Show Director Simon Brooks-Ward further emphasised the “Dujardin effect” on both the sport and the show. He explained that when they first introduced dressage at Olympia they sold half the seats but the sell-out result is “indicative of the way that dressage is going and people’s understanding and appreciation of it. There is no better to put that forward on the world stage than Charlotte” he says. “As well as maintaining the Olympia tradition of staging family entertainment in the build-up to Christmas, our challenge has always been to put on world class sport, and the fact that we now stage three FEI World Cups™ clearly shows how far Olympia has developed over the years. When you add three World No. 1 competitors to this mix: Charlotte Dujardin, Scott Brash and Boyd Exell – it provides an incredibly competitive and compelling show. But it is down to role models and we have incredible success in equestrianism in this country at the moment and we’re all surfing the wave.” 

 

BT Sport

BT Sport Action Woman of the Year

Having ridden Valegro at 6am this morning, Charlotte travelled to London and spent the morning riding out in Hyde Park with The Household Cavalry, which was covered by a number of national newspapers. She was then off to Olympic Park for the BT Sport Action Woman Awards, hosted by Clare Balding. The awards celebrate the top ten female performances of the year from World Cup winning rugby players to World Champion rock climbers. (Even though Valegro’s male, they still let him in!) It was, therefore, all the more exciting to hear that Charlotte won the prestigious title this week. 

 

Having been nominated for SPOTY amongst the likes of Rory McElroy and Lewis Hamilton, Charlotte is most certainly  the deserving winner of the BT Sports Action Woman of the Year after a momentous year that included breaking yet another World record and picking up two individual golds and a team silver at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy. Achieving any of these accolades is great for the sport as well as Charlotte but we asked her how she is finding time to fit in training with Olympia just a week away. “It’s crazy, I missed two weeks of training as I was away in Australia, I have the BT Sport Awards and after party tonight and then I’m flying to Scotland on Sunday for SPOTY before flying home on Monday to go straight to Olympia. Very hectic but it will all some how work out.” And does she enjoy dressing up “Not really, I feel much more at home in jodphurs.” She said. “I am a girl who enjoys mucking out, not that I ever have time but I don’t really feel natural in a dress.”

 

Charlotte revealed to The Gaitpost that she is now even recognised in the supermarket which she loves. “It’s so nice to get recognised for what I do even when they say things like “you’re the girl with the dancing horse, the one that makes that horse do all those crazy things. It’s just great that our sport is now understood and appreciated by people who previously had no idea. Before the Olympics, no one knew what dressage was.”

 

And beyond Olympia and even dressage what does the future hold for the world’s greatest ever dressage rider? “I’d like to write a book but every time I think I should start, something else exciting happens in my life. Competing takes up most of my time and The World Cup Final happens in Las Vegas next year so I’m really looking forward to that.”

 

“Oh and of course I want to get married at some point too” she says looking across the room at fiancée Dean with a knowing smile…

 

 

For further information on the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com 

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