Well, it’s been a day of two halves. Today started off with a fabulous performance from Carl and Hawkins Delicato. The cool, calm aura that Carl portrays is perfectly balanced by the power and activity of his classy mount. A highly credible 78.32% kept the team in a silver medal position with just the fourth rider from each country to go. There was such a feeling of elation from the team after three such strong performances, with our double Olympic champion still to come.
Preparing to watch Carl's test in the Team GBR box
A very happy Carl after his dressage test with Hawtins Delicato
Immediately after Carl’s test was the para-equestrian dressage vet inspection. All horses passed this with flying colours, even though the driving rain meant it was a little jolly at times. The para riders have also had the chance to do some arena familiarisation today, which has proved useful and uneventful.
The para horses waiting for the inspection
After further torrential rain, the sun finally came out and we set up ready to watch Charlotte and the fabulous Mount St John Freestyle execute one of the best tests of the day to earn 81.95%, putting Team GBR, and Charlotte individually, into silver medal position. Utter elation was short-lived, though, because the stewards pulled Charlotte and Freestyle aside having found a tiny trace of blood on the horse’s flank. We waited an anxious 10 minutes (which seemed like an hour) for the stewards to come back to us with the decision that they had to be eliminated.
Carl, the grooms Alan and Lucy, the owners Emma and Jill, the rest of the team, Caroline the Chef d’equipe, the support staff, the British Dressage enthusiasts... in fact, everyone was struck down with such disappointment and sadness, mainly for Charlotte who was so totally and utterly devastated with what had just happened, but also because we had lost the chance of the team medal. Charlotte absolutely loves her horses, they are her life and her family, and the thought that she had marked Freestyle, even so very slightly, was beyond comprehension.
Once a drama like this unfolds, you would not believe the immediate effect. Everyone’s phones are ringing off the hook. Social media goes crazy with all sorts of elaborate stories. Everyone wants to be first to break the story and of course they don’t always want to break the real one! We have therefore spent the last few hours making sure that the real story is put out there with a statement explaining the situation and what we intend to do from here.
And what is that? Well, it’s to do everything we can to help our individual riders get as high in the placings as possible so that they can get personal best results and set us in excellent stead for the Games next year.
I’m sitting here typing this while watching the jumping arena familiarisation. Teams of fresh horses having a play in the main arena over some massive fences is always great fun. I am looking forwards to the start of the jumping and the para-dressage competitions tomorrow, and will bring you further news on those in due course.
Want to keep up to date with what Vikki gets up to again in Rotterdam? You can follow her on Instagram at @vikki.underwoodteamgbr