In a thrilling finale to the dressage team competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Great Britain secured a silver medal after great performances from the quartet saw them finish just three per cent behind gold medal winners Germany.
After making their Olympic debut on Wednesday, first in for the British team as the afternoon session got underway was Spencer Wilton with Jennifer Goodman’s Super Nova II. With some lovely movements shining through the test from the thirteen year old horse, it was unlucky to see a mistake in the flying changes in an otherwise fluid test, which was rewarded with a score of 73.613%. Commenting afterwards Spencer said; “I was so pleased with him today, I loved every second of it – he was just brilliant.”
After a short break the British combinations came thick and fast, with all three remaining competitors taking to the arena in the last seven riders of the day. Fiona Bigwood with Orthilia, owned by Penny Bigwood and Neils and Lis Dahl, were first up from Team GB. After a perfect start with eights flying up on the board, only a slight mistake in the piaffe cost the talented pair, who finished on 74.342%. Fiona said; “I was thinking I was going to get a personal best when I started, I was really pleased with it, but I think she got spooked by the camera. The rest was really good though and she really tried for me. In the warm-up I was thinking I want to go now, it’s not often you get that feeling.”
With Germany and the USA also in the running for team medals, it was a thrilling finish as the three teams went head-to-head in the final stages at the Deodoro stadium. The third rider to go for Team GB, Carl Hester, once again produced a classic test with his and Jane De La Mare’s Olympic debutant horse, Nip Tuck. After a spook in yesterday’s Grand Prix, Carl was determined to have a great ride today. An error in the second pirouette saw lower marks awarded, but the pair recovered quickly to score highly in the trot work and transitions to finish on a total mark of 76.485%..
Carl commented after the test; “The Olympics produces a lot of nerves, a different atmosphere and different rides from people. I feel the whole of the team has ridden beautifully. Everybody coped with the pressure and the fact that these horses have travelled half way round the world and come out and done performances like that is really testament to the team.”
The final rider for Great Britain, and for the day, was reigning Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin and her horse, Valegro (owned by Rowena Luard, Anne Barrott and Carl Hester). With some beautiful movements coming throughout the test, an uncharacteristic error in the half pass saw a mark of 3.7 awarded but powering on the duo shone in the extended trot work and pirouettes to finish on a final score of 82.983%. Charlotte spoke afterwards saying; “The last two rounds have been fantastic and it’s a huge privilege to be riding alongside these guys. We have new music for the freestyle, which will hopefully go to plan. I just want to go out there and enjoy myself and give Valegro a good time.”
The gold medal in the team event went to Germany, who finished on a team total of 81.936%, with the USA taking the bronze (76.667%).
Following today’s Grand Prix Special, the top eighteen combinations (only three athletes per nation are able to compete) now head through to the Individual final on Monday, the Grand Prix Freestyle, where Great Britain will be represented by Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Fiona Bigwood.