Julia and Amande De B’Nevill produced a consistent dressage test on Friday (30 July) for 25.2 with Julia stating that dressage wasn’t the mare’s “main strength”. They set out as pathfinders for Germany on cross-country day and came home clear with just 0.4 time-penalties to add – good enough for provisional silver going into the showjumping, behind Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class.
While Oliver had four-faults in the team showjumping round, Julia produced a solid clear round and moved into provisional individual gold position on 25.6.
In the individual final, Oliver eased the pressure on Julia slightly after having a rail early on course, but there was still no room for error with Tom less than a fence behind her on 29.3. But Julia and Amande De B’Nevill showed no signs of feeling the pressure or tiring, as they sailed around giving the fences plenty of air. The pair picked up 0.4 time-penalties to finish on 26.00 to claim the individual gold medal.
“I’m super proud of my horse,” she said. “I’m relieved and happy that I made it happen. I’m very thankful to everyone who’s been with me all the way.
“I won my first pony European title 20 years ago, and since then it’s been a rollercoaster. It’s quite unreal.”
Julia, who nearly did not make it to Tokyo when her top horse Samurai Du Thot was forced to retire after losing his eye earlier this year, said to be at Tokyo is “the stuff dreams are made of”.
“For some time I thought the Olympics would happen without me – and that was fine. Then going to Saumur CCI4*L and winning there, and feeling that ‘Mandy’ really stepped up a level and could deliver something big, I thought ‘maybe I’ve got a little chance of going’.”
Reflecting on the competition, Julia said she was “surprised” to be fourth after the dressage and thought she would have been further down the leaderboard.
“The cross-country went super good; it was quite good for me that I went early because I couldn’t watch too much. I just did my thing,” she said.
“After the cross-country I was fairly positive we could finish well because she’s such a good jumper and I thought, ‘if it goes wrong it’s all in your hands’. Before we went in, I said ‘Mandy, we’re going to get it’ and I think she knew it was a special day.”
Julia said she did not find it “too hard” waiting for everyone else to jump in the final.
“Every time you’re in the lead you go last so I’ve had this situation a few times,” she said. “I’ve got such a belief in my horse and obviously I felt some pressure, but I really didn’t think it’s about an Olympic gold now, I thought ‘we’re going to get a great round – it’s like jumping at home’.
“Then when I finished I thought, ‘ok, now it’s Olympic gold’,” she said.
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