It was a superb day for Great Britain in the dressage arena, as Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, Michael Eilberg, Carl Hester and Gareth Hughes produced the goods out at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy to win the silver medal and thus achieve qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
After Gareth Hughes and Carl Hester’s performances yesterday, which left GBR in the bronze medal position overnight, the pressure was on for Michael Eilberg and Charlotte Dujardin to deliver on the spectacular D’Ornano stage.
Entering the arena for his world championship debut, Michael produced a vital test for the team, marred only by a couple of expensive mistakes aboard a slightly unsettled Half Moon Delphi (owned by Jon and Julie Deverill) to post 71.886%, which sees him through to tomorrow’s Grand Prix Special.
Commenting after his test, Michael said; “I’m a bit disappointed really today with the test that I had. Obviously quite a few mistakes crept in; we’ve had some really good recent form, so the test today was a little bit below par. I’m a bit gutted because I wanted to get a good score for the team but that’s the way it goes. She warmed up really well – that can be a negative because she felt too good! Even round the outside of the arena she felt really good but on the first diagonal she was a bit looky at the camera and it made her hide just a bit. The piaffe came off well today I thought and I collected a few marks there as the test went on.”
The second half of today’s competition saw Olympic and European champion Charlotte Dujardin take to the floor. With Roly Luard and Carl Hester’s Valegro the familiar duo wowed the judges to take the top spot. Their test, which included some impressive piaffe and pirouettes, posted a stunning 85.271% to stand nearly four percent ahead of their nearest rivals, Germany’s Isabell Werth and Bella Rose.
Commenting after her world class performance Charlotte said; “I had such fun. I went out there to do my very best and wanted to try to get us [the team] into a medal position. He did his best and I’m so lucky, as he has just felt fantastic all week. He did try to stop on the centre line but apart from that I was really, really happy. To go out there and get the welcome I got was fantastic. It’s such a great feeling to have that many people behind you.”
Will Connell, Chef de Mission for GBR out at the WEG summed up today’s performance; “As a team they only have two occasions to qualify for the Rio Olympics. This is absolutely what we wanted and means that they have a two year run in to the Olympics, during which time they can bring on young horses and don’t have to worry about qualification. What Charlotte did today was truly outstanding, and along with her team mates, they have made the paving stones for the road to Rio.”
Carl commented on the result; “As a team we’re really delighted; no one feels left out, we’re so lucky to have Charlotte who can take the pressure off to get the scores and win medals.”
Germany finished in the gold medal position, with The Netherlands taking the bronze. Both Charlotte and Carl join Michael to compete in tomorrow’s Grand Prix Special.
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson and Horrell, Land Rover, Mears Country Jackets, NAF, NuuMed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.