Britain wins first Olympic dressage medal – it’s gold

TeamGold-HP.jpg

The British dressage team produced the dream result for the packed partisan crowd at Greenwich Park, beating Germany to the gold medal. It is the first time ever Britain has won any Olympic medal in dressage.

Solid performances by all three team riders in today’s grand prix special saw Britain extend their overnight lead on Germany, while the Netherlands took bronze.

Carl Hester got the team off to an excellent start with Uthopia. The 11-year-old stallion owned the arena with his fabulous trot extensions wowing the crowds and the judges for a score of 80.571%.

Carl said: “I was really, really pleased with that — I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve only ridden the test once [in competition at Fritzens, Austria] so to come here and better the mark by 5% is amazing.”

Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris built on Carl’s performance with a solid 77.794%. A slight mistake going into the two-time changes was the only significant slip-up in an otherwise polished test.

A delighted Laura said: “The old Alf’s back, he felt fantastic; he gave me the performance of a young horse which makes me feel really emotional.

“Today has been so special. The crowd — there’s nothing like it, it’s amazing to have all those people behind you.”

Charlotte Dujardin was last to go for Britain. The 26-year-old remained totally cool in only her second season at grand prix to score 83.286% on Valegro and top the individual leader board. Their extended trots and piaffe/passage tours were among the highlights.

Afterwards Charlotte admitted to feeling the pressure in the arena saying: “My legs were like jelly. It’s so surreal. It was the ultimate dream to get here and win gold; Valegro’s the horse of a lifetime.”

Britain finished on a combined score of 79.979%, ahead of Germany on 78.216% with the Netherlands on 77.124%.

Other tests of particular note included world number one Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival, who remains a real threat for the individual gold (to be decided on Thursday), scoring 81.968 to help the Netherlands secure the bronze.

Helen Langehanenberg was Germany’s best score of 78.937 with Damon Hill for fifth, while the USA’s Steffen Peters and Ravel were equal 7th on 76.254 with Germany’s Kristina Sprehe (Desperados).

British individual Richard Davison and Artemis scored 70.524% for 26th place. Artemis became unsettled after spotting something he disliked in the corner near A, with expensive spooks after both the one-time changes and the final extended canter.

View team results

View individual results

First H&H reports on the Olympic dressage and showjumping team contests in the magazine out FRIDAY, 10 August