A ticket to the kur: I felt like Charlie fingering the golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. British hopes burned brightly for more gold, but the Dutch were out in force too to support Adelinde Cornellissen and Edward Gal.
On a thrilling, tense, stunning and hot day, it did not go Carl’s way. After a couple of major errors on an otherwise slightly flat Uti, Carl knew it. Ever the pro, he smiled at the crowds, but could barely find the will for a wave. My heart bled for him. The pupil seemed set to beat the master – and on the master’s own horse. He has been so selfless, generous and loyal helping Charlotte to this point – all Britain would have loved to have seen him land an individual medal.
Laura B and Alf really pulled it out of the bag with her fabulous Lion King-themed test, much more stirring, I thought, than her old kur. Alf certainly belied his 17-years as they produced their best test of the Games. Some horses seemed ‘overcooked’ by the third and final test of the Games – not Alf. I wonder what determines which way a horse will go by the final phase of an intense competition? Is it experience? Strength? No doubt team managers will be scrutinising this issue for future championships.
Then Adeleinde produced a sublime test – those rotating piaffes, the beautifully choreographed canter pirouettes, executed bang on the beat of the music. It left me mesmerised from my seat in the stands – and a little tense. That’s it, I thought. The Dutch may have won it.
Charlotte’s London-themed test – complete with Big Ben’s chimes and lighter moments of music from The Great Escape – was perfectly pitched for this occasion. But was it sparkling enough to beat Adelinde, particularly with the chunky error before the final centre line? Sitting in the grandstands, without the benefit of seeing anything close up, I wasn’t sure.
The good news is I’m not a judge, and the judges get to sit right next to the boards. The people who can really see gave their verdict and it was decisive. Charlotte melted into tears, and so might I if this fairy tale Olympics for British equestrianism has closed with narrow defeat for Britain.
Three golds, silver and bronze – it’s a hell of a medal tally, a new British record. Team GB we salute you.