Charlotte is Britain's dressage golden girl!

Friday August 10, 2012

History was made yesterday at Greenwich Park as Britain clinched its first individual Olympic medals – a gold and a bronze - to put us firmly amongst the great dressaging nations of the world following our team Gold on Tuesday. 27 year old Charlotte Dujardin reduced 23,000 people to tears in the grandstand with her Olympic record breaking performance.

Riding 'horse of a lifetime', Valegro, owned by Carl Hester and Roly Luard, she scored an amazing 90.098%. The final test of the Olympic individual competition is the Freestyle where riders and horses ‘dance’ to music and Charlotte rode to a perfectly choreographed patriotic routine to tunes like Battle of Midway, The Great Escape and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance. Charlotte becomes only the fourth ever British woman to win two gold medals at one Olympics alongside runner Kelly Holmes, swimmer Rebecca Adlington and cyclist Laura Trott. Additionally, two medals also brought Team GB’s medal total to the magic 50.

"That was unbelievable," said an emotional Charlotte. "It is always something I've known the horse could achieve but actually doing it is something else. I didn't really know how I was going to find the atmosphere and the expectation.

"Not many people are going to have the chance that I've had to get to the Olympics in a year and a bit of competing in grand prix and to come here with such a fantastic horse like Valegro and win doesn’t feel real.

"All I could do was to do my best. Valegro was feeling tired, but he got in there and gave his all. He’s never let me down; he’s the horse of a lifetime.”

Team mate Laura Bechtolsheimer finished in bronze position with her long-term equine partner Mistral Hojris, owned by Laura and her father Wilfried. They rode to songs from the animated Disney film, ‘The Lion King’ and with a score of 84.339% set the competition alight when fourth last to go. Called ‘Alf’ at home, Laura’s ride looked at his peak despite being 17 years old and this was certainly his best test of the week with magical piaffe and passage work. A tearful salute at the end signalled a sure sign of a fantastic test and the judges duly rewarded with a medal winning score.

A delighted Laura said; "I was hoping Alf would come home with a medal for that performance.

“He's 17 years old and he's given me so much. To compete against these young horses with such enthusiasm makes me very emotional. He was just beautiful to ride, so powerful. He was doing it for me. He’s just got better and better all week and I wanted to do him justice and enjoy it. He was amazing, I could ride for the maximum in every movement, it was like telepathy between us and he had so much power. The whole experience has been awesome and the crowd has carried us to all our medals.”

Our third rider Carl Hester, Charlotte’s mentor, finished fifth aboard Sasha Stewart and his own Uthopia who debuted his new music routine today, prepared by Tom Hunt. ‘Uti’ seemed to trot on air as he glided across the arena in front of a stunned crowd who could only gasp in awe. The new music expertly reflected Utopia’s gait and style which scored well for a final 82.857%.

An exceptionally proud Carl said; “To have our three riders in the top five is an absolute bomb to the rest of the world. I’m so excited for Charlotte and Laura as the new generation of British riders, securing the future of the sport by delivering at the top level. I feel equally as happy as if I’d won gold myself, being trainer to Charlotte and part owner to Valegro, nurturing this talent has given me great pleasure.”

The silver medal went to Adelinde Cornelissen who rode her well-practiced freestyle test to The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy with Parzival and wowed the ground jury with her well executed test to score 88.196%.

Charlotte was last to go and knew she had to ride the test of her life and secure Britain the Gold medal. ‘Blueberry’ looked tired on entering the arena but soon grew to the welcome of the crowd, as a determined and nervous Charlotte prepared to go. The breath taking musical composition, again by Tom Hunt, was not only a truly British piece but completely had the crowds in awe as this combination began. The tension built as when what might have been a costly mistake, a piaffe transition, spoilt an otherwise perfect performance. All held their breath as Charlotte took the final steps to complete her test. The unsettled crowds waited in anticipation but then roars of exaltation could be heard far and wide as the score of 90.089% went up on the score board and gold was Charlotte’s. This outstanding British talent now holds the Olympic record in all three tests, scored a stunning 33 10s across three tests, joins a group of elite dual gold medallists and has truly brought dressage to the masses.

The Dressage team gold, individual gold and bronze combine with the team silver won by the eventing team and team gold from the showjumpers to make London 2012 Britain’s most successful Games for equestrian sport.



To see pictures of Charlotte and Valegro in action in previous Championships, click here

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