The last day of the dressage competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games concluded earlier today and with it saw Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, retain her Olympic title, whilst posting a new Olympic record with her dancing partner Valegro.
After shining earlier in the week during the team event, Charlotte and Valegro (owned by Rowena Luard, Anne Barrott and Carl Hester) looked determined as they entered the arena today, to cheers from the gathered spectators. Together the dynamic duo produced some stunning work in the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre to the backing of samba music. After a beautiful test, with some highlights coming in the pirouettes and extended trot work, a massive score of 93.857% was confirmed.
Commenting afterwards, an emotional Charlotte said; “It was truly magical. I knew he couldn’t have done any more, he literally felt like he had done his very best; that last centre line, he just tried so hard.
“I know I’ve done my best and he’s done his. It was an amazing feeling in there, I had a really lovely time. I thought I’ve got to go and enjoy it, I felt like he really looked after me out there. I’ve only ridden that floor plan once; I’ve altered a few bits and pieces, I hadn’t even practiced some of the bits I did before today.
“I just want to say thank you to the people behind the scenes who help to make this happen, and make our dreams come true. I’m living the dream.”
Mentor, owner and coach Carl Hester spoke afterwards on the result; “I think for her, for sure it must be better than London, consistency is so hard with a horse and to see that horse being at the top for six years with hardly a blip on his record is phenomenal; I can’t think of many horses that have done what he’s done. To watch her, she had absolute preparation heading in there; I felt very emotional when she came out.”
With three Team GB athletes coming forward to contest the day’s individual final, there was more to celebrate in the British camp, after good performances from both Games debutant Fiona Bigwood and Orthillia and team stalwart Carl Hester with Nip Tuck.
First up for Great Britain in the morning session was Fiona Bigwood with Orthillia, owned by Penny Bigwood and Neils and Lis Dahl. With some lovely work throughout the test, a slight mistake came during the first half-pass when Tillie broke into canter. Finishing on a score of 76.018%, Fiona commented; “She was offering [in the half pass] what she thought I wanted, it was expensive, but it’s been a tough three weeks out here. It’s been brilliant; we are such a good team, we get on really well. The noise is surpising, when we hear the clapping at the back of the arena, it is quite a noise out there. Windsor last year was the last time I’ve run through the test; I really like the music, it’s quite fun.”
Carl Hester, who has had a busy week both competing and training the other members of the British team produced a lovely test with his twelve year-old ride Nip Tuck, owned by Jane De La Mare. The combination rose to the occasion and were awarded for some excellent work with a seventh placed finish and a score of 82.553%.
“Unbelievable,” Carl commented on Barney, “the fact that that horse’s taken me to where I am now; I’ve had him since he was one and eleven years later he’s got me here. A top ten finish was my ambition, the horse was wonderful and produced his best.”
With an Olympic record and the gold for Charlotte, the silver went to Germany’s Isabell Werth (Weihegold Old) with a score of 89.071%, with Germany’s Kristina Broring-Sprehe (Desperados FRH) taking the bronze after finishing on 87.142%.
Full results from today’s competition can be found online at: https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-dressage-individual-grand-prix-freestyle