Sarah Jenkins: Bravery – on and off course

  • I spent five years as dressage editor at Horse & Hound. I’d report on Nations Cups such as Aachen and always save space for an interview with the chef d’equipe to explain, well, why are we in seventh and what do we need to do to get a medal?

    When Britain crept up the standings, taking silver at the last World Games in Kentucky and then gold in London 2012, we were elated, not to mention surprised. For Charlotte Dujardin to have retained her London form — and the ride on Valegro — to add double European and now double World gold to her Olympic and World Cup honours — it’s out of this world.

    Watching British tests used to be nail biting — now it’s a pleasure seeing Valegro produce perfection.

    Our para dressage riders have always been brilliant, which goes some way to explaining their disapointment at winning individual silver. That’s how self-critical you need to be to have such success.

    Having heard about the queues, not to mention the loos, I’m less disappointed to have spent the weekend on the sofa glued to the TV and Twitter, rather than in Caen.

    Seeing Zara, William, Nicola and Tina’s heroic rounds — and hearing about Harry’s, which the French videographers sadly denied us — we were reminded again what sets our eventers apart. When the going gets tough — and it looked seriously tough coming up that last hill for the penultimate fence — the Brits dig deep.

    Their success was a tragic contrast to the news filed shortly after that Wild Lone had died following his clear round. Having brought Harry back to the top after a horrific fall and career-threatening injuries, it was the saddest turn of events.

    British eventers are an incredible breed. To face the media immediately and alleviate any talk of blame from the course or going takes even more courage than that fish water complex. Here’s to Harry’s bravery — equal to that of his horse.

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