Disaster struck for Britain at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when Charlotte Dujardin was eliminated after posting 81.91% — enough to secure the team silver medal.
Last to go for Britain, Charlotte and the 10-year-old Fidermark mare Mount St John Freestyle rode a blinder of a test to post a personal best grand prix score of 81.91%, confirming Britain as silver medal winners behind Germany, with the Netherlands in bronze.
However, blood was discovered on the bay mare’s flank at the subsequent stewards’ check, and the combination were eliminated. Without Charlotte’s score, Britain slip to fourth behind Sweden, missing a medal by less than 1%.
An FEI spokesman said: “Blood was found on the left flank of the horse in the post-competition check. In accordance with article 4188.8.131.52 of the FEI dressage rules, this results in elimination.
“Elimination under this rule does not imply there was any intent to injure the horse, but the rules are in place to protect the welfare of all competing horses.”
Charlotte said: “I’m obviously absolutely devastated – nothing like this has ever happened to me before. The health and welfare of my horses is always my number one priority, but of course I accept the decision.”
Emma and Jill Blundell, owners of Mount St John Freestyle, added: “We fully support Charlotte. Today’s was a great performance, but we accept the decision. We know how seriously Charlotte takes the welfare of our horse and we’re proud to have her ride for us.”
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British Dressage chief executive Jason Brautigam tweeted: “Very disappointing news from Rotterdam. After scoring 81.910% and securing the silver medal position, Charlotte Dujardin and Freestyle were sadly eliminated due to a small trace of blood on the side. The horse is absolutely fine and well on returning to the stables, just bad luck.
“Obviously horse welfare comes first and that remains the top priority for the whole team. Everyone involved accepts this decision and we will all be supporting Carl, Gareth and Lottie as they continue to compete in the grand prix special on Thursday.”
Charlotte is the fourth competitor of the competition to be eliminated. Luxembourg’s Nicolas Wagner was eliminated after his ride Quater Back Junior bit his tongue, and French rider Charlotte Chalvignac was pulled up as Lights Of Londonderry was deemed unsound by the judges. Earlier today, Isabel Cool of Belgium was also eliminated for lameness.
Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H for extensive coverage from the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, out 29 August.