In a nail-biting finale to the FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen, Germany, today (16 August), last-to-go Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin retained her freestyle title with Valegro – by the tightest of margins, just 0.25%.
It initially looked like it would be even closer, with just 0.1% splitting the two riders, before Charlotte’s score was revised up slightly.
Germany’s Kristina Bröring-Sprehe took silver and Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat stepped onto the podium for the first time at this championships to take bronze, riding a new freestyle personal best of 82.714% on the De Niro son Delgado.
The penultimate competitor, Kristina, laid down a massive 88.804% on Desperados FRH immediately before the British rider had to contend with wild and protracted applause from the 40,000-seater stadium.
Charlotte’s test started well, but she made mistakes in the first line of changes, and the second. She was able to repeat the two-times, but not the one-time changes.
“When you make mistakes in a test like that, you’ve just got to try to put it behind you and not dwell on it,” she said.
Her compatriot Carl Hester rode to 79.5% and eighth on Nip Tuck – the highest-placed rider to score under 80% in an exceptionally competitive class.
Isabell Werth and Don Johnson slotted into fourth (82.482%) with their best ride of the week. Yesterday’s special bronze medallist Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Johnson TN finished fifth (82.411%), while Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl were the other two riders to top 80%.
Britain’s third rider qualified for the freestyle, Fiona Bigwood on Atterupsgaards Orthilia, withdrew this morning.
For a full report on all the action, drama and medals – as well as analysis and comment – see the bumper European Championships Dressage Horse & Hound magazine edition, out Thursday (20 August).