Britain have secured the bronze medal in the Helgstrand-sponsored dressage at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. Germany maintained their lead to claim an emphatic gold while the USA took silver.
Britain were sitting in the silver medal spot with Charlotte Dujardin still to go following very good tests from Carl Hester on Hawtins Delicato, Spencer Wilton on Super Nova II and Emile Faurie on Dono Di Maggio. Under blazing hot sun, Charlotte rode Emma and Jill Blundell’s nine-year-old Mount St John Freestyle (below) to a score of 77.76% at the mare’s first championship.
Freestyle displayed some super work, with her extensions garnering especially high marks, although the test was not blip-free — they had a small mistake in the one-time changes, and the piaffe was sticky at times. But Charlotte was delighted: “What an amazing horse to come here and do that — I’m so proud of her. I didn’t know how she was going to be in there as she’s never been in that sort of environment and she’s very young and inexperienced,” said the Olympic gold medallist, competing at a senior championship for the first time since the retirement of Valegro.
“We had a few little mistakes but they’re all things that are easy to iron out. She felt great and loved the atmosphere — it doesn’t make her afraid at all. You definitely wouldn’t think she’s only nine.”
The fight for bronze could not have been closer, however; Sweden’s anchorman Patrik Kittel needed a huge personal best of 78.3% to deny Britain a medal, and he and the 10-year-old mare Well Done De La Roche CMF came excruciatingly close, their score of 78.19% more than 2% ahead of their previous personal best.
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Germany’s Isabell Werth had the ride of her life on the dainty Belissimo mare Bella Rose (below), who has had nearly four years off with an injury. They charged to the top of the leaderboard with a fantastic test, posting 84.83%, another huge personal best on the mare she describes as her “dream horse”.
“This was so special,” said a hugely emotional Isabell, who has partnered Madeleine Winter-Schulze’s mare since she was a three-year-old. “We have worked together for so long and had so many ups and downs. It’s so brilliant to come back with this performance.”
Last-to-go Laura Graves also brought her A-game for the home side, recording 81.54% with an almost flawless performance on her 16-year-old gelding Verdades, to secure the USA the silver medal.
The Netherlands finished in fifth place with Spain sixth and Denmark seventh. The top 30 riders will go forward to compete for the first set of individual medals in the grand prix special tomorrow.