Charlotte Dujardin has opened up to Horse & Hound about her personal best grand prix score at the European Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and her subsequent elimination under blood rules.
Charlotte rode Emma and Jill Blundell’s 10-year-old Mount St John Freestyle to score 81.91%, enough to slot into individual second behind Isabell Werth and earn Britain the team silver medal. But blood was found on the Fidermark mare’s left flank at the post-competition stewards’ check, resulting in automatic elimination under FEI rules.
“When I came out of the ring I was really, really happy,” Charlotte told H&H’s reporter in Rotterdam. “I’d had a mistake coming out of the first piaffe and in the zig-zag, but on the whole I was so pleased with her — she really tried, and she’s getting stronger and more confident every time. All our other riders had done fantastically well, and I really wanted to hold that silver medal.
“We never think anything of the stewards’ check; I’m never worried about making a spur mark or having blood in the mouth — riding in front of stewards in the warm-up doesn’t ever bother me because I have nothing to hide. I ride in a way that mean my horses want to work with me. I don’t force them — it’s not the rider I am.”
With Charlotte’s mark discounted, Britain dropped to fourth place in the team rankings behind Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, missing a medal by just 1%.
“The rules are the rules and I totally accept that; the stewards were really lovely and were as devastated as we were,” said Charlotte. “We couldn’t believe it was really happening, and the worst feeling for me was that I had let the rest of the team down.
“I have never cried so much as that night — I think I cried myself to sleep. I never usually read social media but I did, and I was heartbroken by the comments — they broke me and I felt like giving up if I’m honest. I don’t feel I rode in any way, shape or form to ever intentionally give her a mark. All night I kept thinking where or how it might have happened.”
Britain has dropped to fourth place after Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle were eliminated
Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle were eliminated from the grand prix under FEI blood rules
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Charlotte said: “But I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had too, from riders, supporters, judges from all over the world. Things like this make you realise who your true friends are.
“Now I have to move on and keep my head held high. It’s gutting not to be able to ride the special tonight and the freestyle, but all I can do now is support Carl and the others — and I will.”
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.