Fry and Everdale fly to victory in Grand Prix

Media updates
17 April 2024 Author: Louise Parkes

Reigning individual world champion, Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry, secured a clear victory in the Grand Prix to get the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2024 underway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this afternoon.

Partnering her Tokyo Olympic ride, the 15-year-old stallion Everdale, Fry was top choice of all seven judges when scoring 75.388 to pin Sweden’s Patrik Kittel into second place with Touchdown while Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Don Olymbrio finished third. 

The surprise of the day was the fourth-place finish for German legend Isabell Werth whose test with DSP Quantaz was undermined by costly errors. Fifth spot went to her young compatriot Raphael Netz riding Great Escape Camelot while the third German contender, Matthias Alexander Rath, slotted into sixth with Destacado FRH.


Skodborg Merrald, a member of the historic Danish side that took the World team title in 2022 and who finished second at last year’s FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in Omaha, USA with Blue Hors Zepter, headed the group of six riders to compete before the first break when putting 72.904 on the board. 

Her 16-year-old chestnut stallion, Blue Hors Don Olymbrio, was full of himself in the arena today. “He was a little bit excited and was looking a bit here and there which I didn’t expect because normally he never looks around, but he was just fresh! I really liked it actually that he was a bit fresh and excited because he’s so much fun to ride! We could have done without the small mistakes but overall I’m very happy with him”, she said.

Second to go of the next group, Netz posted 72.003 to slot in behind her but, two horses later, Kittel went right out in front when scoring 73.292 for a really consistent performance with the 12-year-old Touchdown.  

The three-time Olympian said “he was quite spooky when we were training the last few days because they were still building in the arena, but today he handled it really well, he was very calm and he did a super-nice test so I’m just happy. He was quite mistake-free”.

Looking forward

He was glad to have the Grand Prix done and dusted and already looking forward to Friday’s title-deciding Freestyle.

“When you’ve done the test and it’s your first start you can build up to the Freestyle, and that’s quite a relief as a rider. Because I’m quite nervous so for me it’s good to just breathe out and go. With such a great score and such a good presentation I couldn’t have been more thrilled!”, he pointed out. 

He has a big soft spot for the 12-year-old gelding Touchdown. “For me he is like a horse that never lets me down. He won in Herning, he was third in Amsterdam, he’s done everything for me and I’m really so thankful to him that he does what he does. He’s my reliable horse, I can always go to him. He’s a really kind soul and I’m very fond of him, but of course I’m fond of all my horses! We couldn’t do this sport if we weren’t immensely fond of our horses”, he added.

The Swede stayed out in front of the rest of the field until, with just three left to go, Fry set off with Everdale.

Talking about her ride, the British star said the stallion - who is something of an attention-seeker - was also a bit keen this afternoon. “He loves arenas like that and sometimes he can barely contain his excitement but he just about managed it today! He loves to go in and show off and loves his job so it’s an honour to be able to ride him in arenas like this. It’s pretty special. We make a really good team together because we love events like this. It’s just so much fun for both of us!”, she explained. 

Far from decided

The Grand Prix result was far from decided however until Werth and DSP Quantaz took their turn, and, second-last into the ring, their test was looking very promising indeed until it all fell apart in the two-tempi changes before more mistakes also crept in. To disbelief from the sidelines the scoreboard showed 72.236 to squeeze them into fourth place between Skodborg Merrald and Netz. 

Kittel admitted that it took him completely aback to find himself in runner-up spot.

“I’ve done a lot of Finals but I’ve never been second!”, he pointed out. “I’m a bit surprised because I thought OK you know The Queen (Isabell Werth) is coming. But then I saw she had some mistakes which is a bit unusual for her and then I got a message that I was second and of course I was happy about that!”

Anyone who has followed Werth’s career however knows that if anyone can bounce back it is this lady who is the most decorated athlete in the history of equestrian sport. She endured a similar experience with her great mare Weihegold in Paris (FRA) in 2018 but came back to take the title on Freestyle day. So she may be down this evening, but she most certainly isn’t out….

From today’s startlist of 17 a total of 15 have qualified for Friday’s Freestyle which will decide the destination of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2024 title. 

Moldova’s Alisa Glinka and Abercrombie have not made the cut after scoring 62.873 in the Grand Prix while The Netherlands’ Thamar Zweistra and Hexagon’s Ice Weiss were eliminated under the blood rule.

Friday’s action begins at 17.15 local time, so don’t miss a hoofbeat….