It’s been nearly two years since Mount St. John Freestyle, a horse once dubbed “Mrs Valgero,” has graced an international arena.

Bred by Germany’s Stephan Kurz and purchased as a foal by Great Britain’s Emma Blundell, Mount St John Freestyle rose to fame under British Olympian Charlotte Dujardin. The Hanoverian mare was a pivotal and promising star in her string following the retirement of Valegro, Dujardin’s four-time Olympic medal winning mount, after the 2016 Rio Games. (Hence, the nickname).

With MSJ Freestyle, Dujardin went on to win team and individual bronze medals at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC and competed for Britain at the European Championships in 2019. (They were eliminated due to a spur rub after the Grand Prix.)

In 2020, the pair logged their personal best in the World Cup Freestyle in Amsterdam, just missing the 90 mark with a score of 89.50%. Mount St John Freestyle was considered a leading hopeful for the 2020 Olympic Games, but was ultimately deemed unfit to compete in Tokyo. Dujardin opted to compete Gio instead.

Their last appearance together was in May 2021 at a CDI3* in Wellington, Heckfield.

The mare has been absent from the international stage since, but did compete under longtime owner Blundell at the National Grand Prix level.

Now 15, Mount St John Freestyle has a second chance at Olympic qualification under new rider and now co-owner Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour of Denmark.

The newly-minted pair made their FEI debut in December at a CDI3* in Kronenberg, NED and won both the Grand Prix (81.196%) and the Special (81.404).

“MSJ Freestyle you’re one in a billion—I’m speechless ❤️,” wrote the Danish rider on Instagram after their debut.

This week, they contested their first five star in Herning. And again, they won both classes.

The judges awarded the pair a 80.413% in the ECCO Grand Prix and a 81.979% in the Special, earning six 10s despite a small error in two-tempi changes.

“It was so cool in there today, I haven’t had that feeling since Cassidy,” said a clearly touched Laudrup-Dufour. “It’s huge, it’s only my fourth start on her, and I’m just so proud of her. She knows what she’s doing in there and we can really talk about things. It just feels like she loves it in there.

“[She is completely] out of this world.”

If Laudrup-Dufor is feeling pressure to perform with the superstar mare, she isn’t letting it on.

“I’ve been used to riding under pressure since I was really small,” she said in the press conference after her win in December. “I actually do prefer to perform under pressure because then I feel I’m a tad sharper. But it’s not really filling up my mind because my main goal here and every time I go in with Free is to get to know her. So the get to know her part is way bigger for me than the pressure.

“Because it’s not like the Olympic Games is going to be closer or further away no matter how it goes in the ring. So I’m just way more focused on my job in the ring.”