Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour Gets Mount St. John Freestyle as 2024 Paris Olympic Hopeful

Tue, 10/17/2023 - 09:10
Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour and Mount St. John Freestyle :: Photo © Photography by Hall

Denmark's number one Grand Prix rider Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour has received the ride on former British WEG medal winning horse, Mount St. John Freestyle, as her 2024 Olympic hopeful.

The joint company of Laudrup-Dufour and her long-time sponsors, the Zinglersen family, have purchased a half ownership in the British owned Grand Prix horse. 

Mount St. John

Mount St. John Freestyle is a 14-year old Hanoverian mare by Fidermark out of Donna Gracia (by Donnerhall x Ataturk x Freiherr) . She is bred by Stephan Kurz in Germany.

Emma Blundell of Mount St. John brood farm in Felixkirk, U.K., bought the mare as a foal at the 2009 Hanoverian Elite Foal Auction.

CDI GP Debut at 2018 CDI Joosland
Emma rode the mare in her first show in March 2013 as a 4-year old and competed her the first year. As of 2015 Charlotte Dujardin was on board.

Dujardin and Freestyle won the 2015 British Young Horse Championships and the Medium Level Championship at the Nationals. In 2016 they won the Advanced Medium Championship. 

Valegro's Successor

With Valegro retired at the end of 2016, Dujardin put full focus on Freestyle and dominated the 20217 British Small Tour Championship. 

By March 2018 Charlotte debuted Freestyle at Grand Prix. Their international show debut was at the CDI Nieuw en St. Joosland three weeks later. They won Joosland and went full throttle to win both tests at the CDI's Windsor, Bolesworth and Hartpury. After a one year absence from the British team in 2017, Dujardin was selected again for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, where they won team and individual bronze.

Double bronze at 2018 WEG
In 2019 they returned at Bolesworth and did CDI Hartpury, skipping Aachen. At the 2019 European Championships the pair was eliminated from the Grand prix when a blood mark from the spur was seen on the side of the horse at the tack check after the test. It was a dramatic turn of events for team Britain, which dropped to fourth place, and Dujardin's time at the Europeans was done.

After Rotterdam, Durjardin focused on the 2019-2020 World Cup qualifiers and rode Lyon, London and Amsterdam.They went to the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch but the show was cancelled due to the outbreak of corona in Europe that weekend. The World Cup Finals in Las Vegas were also cancelled. They won the 2020 British Championships in December.

In the Olympic year 2021 Dujardin introduced Gio alongside Freestyle. At the CDI Hagen in April 2021 Freestyle was second behind Werndl and Dalera, but won the Special with 82.872%. Three weeks later, Gio beat Freestyle in the Grand Prix at the CDI Wellington Heckfield, while the mare won the Kur to Music as Gio took the Special.

The CDI Wellington Heckfield in May 2021 turned out to be Freestyle's last CDI competition. Dujardin picked Gio for the 2021 Olympic Games and Blundell explained that Freestyle was not fit to compete.

A Break

At Mount St John with Emma
Shortly afterwards the collaboration between Dujardin and Blundell quietly ended.  Emma began working more closely with Amy and Holly Woodhead. Freestyle returned home for a break and in the winter of 2022-2023 she picked up training again.

 In March 2023 Emma revealed that she dreams of the Paris Olympics and those dreams became stronger when she scored 74.13% at Northallerton EC in Yorkshire in Emma's Grand Prix debut and the mare's first show since May 2021.

A New Chapter in Denmark

However, plans have changed and Freestyle has not be retained for Team Great Britain.

At the end of the summer of 2023 Mount St. John Freestyle moved to Cathrine Dufour's yard in Denmark. Laudrup-Dufour & Zinglersen’s joint company has bought half of Mount St John Freestyle as Cathrine's hopeful for Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

"This is an incredible opportunity and I am grateful that Family Zinglersen wants to support me in the sport at this level through our joint company," said Cathrine. "To me it is a dream coming true, and from the first minute I sat on her we clicked. She is definitely a one in billion horse, and thanks to Charlotte Dujardin and Emma Blundell's amazing training it has been a pleasure to take over the reins of her. To me she is the female version of Cassidy: a heart of gold, unbelievable work ethic and outstanding quality."

A new chapter with Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour
(Photo © Photography by Hall)
Emma explained that, "freestyle is our horse of a lifetime; from being our first purchased dressage foal, to taking me to my first British Dressage finals as a 4yr, then onto amazing memories together with Charlotte Dujardin where at 9yr she won the Bronze individual medal at WEG 2018, we were devastated when she missed out on the Tokyo 2021 Olympics due to being off for the Games."

Blundell added, "it’s been amazing to have her back home at Mount St John for the last couple of years to breed by embryo transfer, while enjoying her company and her also teaching me the GP up to my debut in June scoring +74%; however we know that she’s destined for greater things, and our absolute dream was always to see her at an Olympics and back at the top of the sport. We could not be happier to have found the ultimate match in Cathrine, who was the first to try her, and in a very short time they already make an incredible partnership."

Achieve Her True Sporting Potential

Blundell further explained that she met Dufour in person through the help Danish horse breeder and stallion owner Lone Boegh Henriksen.

Emma and Freestyle at MSJ in Felixkirk
After years of having supported Team Great Britain, Emma Blundell is now giving Denmark a very strong iron in the fire for Paris with her confirmed, medal winning horse Freestyle.

"Cathrine was the first to try Freestyle and she looked relaxed and happy, but on top form! When one of the best riders of the world wants to collaborate and you see your horse looking like that, it’s got nothing to do with being patriotic or not, we always wanted the best for our horse in terms of her care alongside a chance to achieve her true sporting potential after a run of bad luck," Emma told Eurodressage exclusively.

"We believe that we have the best recipe for that now heading into an exciting time next year. I never intended for myself to compete in an Olympics, I have the breeding business to run and am getting married next summer, but it certainly was great fun riding her this year and getting to compete again together," Emma stated.

Photos © photography by hall - Astrid Appels - private

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