Reigning Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin smashed the 80% barrier to catapult Britain into the team final and secure her chances of defending her individual title.
Charlotte, 35, and the 10-year-old Gio were rewarded with a score of 80.96% for their exceptional performance in Tokyo’s Equestrian Park at Baji Koen (25 July). The pair held the provisional top spot – along with Britain provisionally taking the team lead – until last to go Germany’s Isabell Werth and Bella Rose 2 swooped into first place on 82.5%.
The little chestnut powerhouse gelding (Apache x Tango), whom Charlotte co-owns with Renai Hart and Carl Hester, rose to the occasion under the floodlights. The pair brimmed with confidence, with the piaffe/passage particular highlights in the flawless test that earned a river of nines across the movements.
“He went in and he tried his absolute heart out. He’s just unbelievable. He gives me everything he’s got, even though he still needs to get stronger and a bit more confident in everything, but he still gives more than he’s capable of giving at the moment!” said Charlotte.
“I’m able to just help him out here and there and he just keeps giving. I can’t ask any more. I really felt emotional on the last center line because when you have a ride like that, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. That’s what it’s all about for me, going in there and you know when you’ve had that ride where you know you’ve had everything he did that for me tonight.”
Charlotte, who won individual gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 aboard Valegro, spotted “Pumpkin” as a young horse while she was giving a training clinic in the US.
Their Olympic performance is made all the more exceptional considering this is “Pumpkin’s” second ever overseas international show. It is also a new international grand prix personal best for the pair, as a combination.
“I was so happy. He’s a very green, inexperienced horse I think he’s done six or seven grand prix at most. It’s a bit of the unknown really not knowing what to expect in there, under the floodlights in an arena like that. Again, he’s not done that really. Hagen had been the biggest show that he’s done and he delivered there, and I couldn’t ask any more from him tonight,” she said.
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