The pair were the British side’s team anchors and were the penultimate combination to ride in the team final tonight (27 July).
The little chestnut pocket rocket belied his 10 years to give a confident test, accompanied by a soundtrack of soaring strings providing an emotional backdrop to his electric performance.
“I came in after Adrienne [Lyle, for the US], looked up and saw she had 81%, so I was like ‘right, Pumpkin, we’ve got to go some!’’ said Charlotte.
The Apache gelding, who Charlotte co-owns with Renai Hart and Carl Hester, was trending around the 83% mark for his early trot-work, with a strong serving of eights and nines from the judges.
The trust between the pair shone through – this was only the gelding’s second ever time performing the grand prix special in public and he brimmed with confidence.
Their extended canter, pirouettes and passage were particular highlights, with the only obvious hint of greenness manifesting in an expensive glitch in the one-time changes.
The expressive performance, rewarded with a score of 79.54%, slotted Britain into provisional silver behind the US, guaranteeing them a team medal. The only question that remained was whether that would be silver or bronze, as the new Olympic format meant the final decision came right down to the last rotation of riders.
A huge score by final rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (TSF Dalera) gave Germany what they needed to successfully defended their Olympic title and win team gold, with the US taking home silver and Britain claiming bronze.
Charlotte, who has now equalled rower Dame Katherine Grainger’s record of the most decorated British female Olympian, added: “I was really pleased – that’s the second time he’s done the special, so he’s so inexperienced. He had a little mistake in the ones and I think I just overrode [where] I gave him a little touch before the piaffe in the walk and I had a little joggy bit.
“I was absolutely thrilled with him, I mean he’s just tried so hard over the last few days and he’s only 10 years old. [With] what little competition he has done and what he’s delivered here, I can’t ask for any more. So for me, this might be a bronze, but it’s really like a gold medal because I feel like he’s given me absolutely everything.”
Charlotte and Gio will go forward to tomorrow’s freestyle (28 July) to contest the individual medals, where they will be joined by their team-mates Lottie Fry and Carl Hester.
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