As the winner of last year’s World Cup dressage final, Charlotte Dujardin had an automatic entry into this year’s competition at Gothenburg, provided she had participated in two Grand Prix Freestyles with the horse she decided to ride in the final. Charlotte was second on Uthopia in the qualifier at Olympia in December, scoring 77.46% in the GP and 82.55% in the Freestyle. In January the pair scored 82.375% in Amsterdam.
We were therefore all hoping that Charlotte was going to be in the start list but unfortunately it is not to be. A British Dressage spokesperson has confirmed that she will not be competing, due to the ongoing legal dispute around Uthopia’s ownership.
What a shame. Uthopia was Carl Hester’s London Olympic horse and there were legal issues back then too, which blocked the sale of the stallion after the Olympics. According to the FEI database, Sasha Stewart and Derek Harrison owned him from 2001 until Hester was listed as the sole owner for some years. That changed in 2011 when both Hester and Stewart were listed as owners. There was always some debate about how much involvement Stewart had in the horse, from having ridden him briefly when he was three, through to having sold him to private investors but keeping her name on the ownership as she liked the glitz and glamour involved. Stewart and her father’s bankruptcy in 2010 and the resulting financial issues have meant that, once again, there is an ownership problem which this time has stopped Uthopia competing.
Other riders we will miss seeing at the final include Beatriz Ferrer-Salat, Edward Gal and Isabell Werth. Isabell had qualified on both Don Johnson and Weihegold, but Don Johnson is out after injuring himself in the stable, and unfortunately, Weihegold is definitely not appearing due to an airway infection. Edward Gal has hurt himself after a fall at home off a young horse and has withdrawn. Beatriz is focusing on Rio rather than the World Cup with Delgado.
The 2016 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final takes place from March 23 to 28.