Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle have won their first Individual medal as a combination on their debut at a major championship after producing an outstanding performance to take bronze in the Helgstrand Dressage Grand Prix Special at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, USA.
Following the retirement of Valegro in 2016, Charlotte, based in Gloucestershire, returned to the podium with the stunning nine year-old mare, owned by Mount St John Equestrian, extending her total of medals at a major championship to 15; her second in Tryon after the team won bronze in the Grand Prix yesterday.
Germany’s Isabel Werth finished top with Bella Rose, claiming her third individual gold in the Grand Prix Special at a World Equestrian Games, ahead of home favourite Laura Graves who took silver with Verdades.
All four British combinations made it through the Grand Prix Special and Emile Faurie, from Oxfordshire, was the first to go with Dono di Maggio, owned by Hof Kasselmann. The pair was fifth in the starting order and produced a score of 70.38% after a some good highlights during their test.
Afterwards Emile said; “It wasn’t his best performance today. He’s a massive horse and the last few days have taken a lot out of him but he really tried. I gave him a very short warm up but he’s inexperienced; he’s a brilliant horse and he’ll be even better next year. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. The trip has been a great experience for him and for me, it’s been a great honour to be part of this amazing team. Other nations are envious of the great team spirit we have.”
Spencer Wilton, based in Reading, was next to go with Jen Goodman’s Super Nova II however, following last night’s medal ceremony, Neville [Super Nova II] was not feeling 100% and after consultation with the equine sport science and medicine team and Jen, his owner, the decision was made to withdraw from the competition.
Spencer said; “I’m obviously devastated for myself and Jen as we were so looking forward to building on what we achieved in the Grand Prix. Prize givings are not Neville’s favourite thing and normally I wouldn’t do them with him but we’re at a Championship. I helped the team secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 and that’s my primary focus so with that in mind, his welfare was key to this tough decision.”
Into the final session of the day and it was Gloucestershire’s Carl Hester who was first to enter the arena riding Hawtins Delicato, owned by Lady Anne Evans, Ann Cory and himself. In just their second Grand Prix Special as a pair, the duo showed no sign of nerves in the U.S Trust Arena as they followed up from their fantastic performance yesterday to produce another superb test, scoring 77.204% to finish ninth.
“I have to be happy with 77% plus in only his second Special and his first Championship, after all, he’s only a young horse,” Carl said. “I had a costly mistake in the one-time changes and in the heat and humidity the final centreline really took all his energy. It’s only when you come to shows like this you learn about your horse and he’s also learned a lot here. I was happy with the team result as that’s what we came here to do but I’m equally happy today.”
The pressure was on as the penultimate pairing, Charlotte and Freestyle [Mount St John Freestyle] entered the arena in what was their third Grand Prix Special after going at Hartpury and Bolesworth earlier this year. Brimming with confidence from yesterday, neither were put off by the expectation and unfazed they duly stunned the crowd with a beautiful performance, scoring a personal best of 81.489% to go into second.
The in-form pairing, Isabel Werth and Bella Rose took to the arena for the final performance of the day and showed their class, topping the standings with 86.246% to take the gold for Germany and push Charlotte down to third.
An elated Charlotte said: “I’m absolutely delighted! She’s only nine and that was just her third [Grand Prix] Special. I knew going in I had nothing to lose and rode her every inch of the way. That feeling I had in the arena today was amazing and for me, it didn’t matter if the test won me a medal as I knew she’d given me everything.”
Both Carl and Charlotte will compete again on Sunday in the Grand Prix Freestyle.
On Sunday’s Freestyle, Charlotte added; “I have new music but I’m keeping it under wraps for now. I love it though and have chosen something quite girly to suit her. I’ve never done a three test show with her so I’m not sure what she’ll have left in the tank but she’s such a trier. She’ll have an easy day tomorrow and then see what Sunday brings.”
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from the British Equestrian Federation Fund and official partners Dodson and Horrell, Equi-Trek, FALPRO England, Musto, NAF and Point Two.