Lottie, 25, was drawn eighth to go in the first group on the opening grand prix day at the Games (Saturday, 24 July).
There are no medals for performances in the grand prix test, which runs today and tomorrow; rather this is a qualifier for both the team and individual medal competitions. Scores from the grand prix are not carried forward, meaning combinations will start on a clean slate in both the special and the freestyle.
Lottie and Everdale’s performance has set both Britain’s team, and their own individual, Olympic hopes off to a phenomenal start.
The 12-year-old stallion, who Lottie co-owns with Van Olst Horses, delivered a fault-free test, liberally sprinkled with nines, to score 77.10% (77.096%) and top their group.
The top two combinations from each group, plus the six horses and riders with the next best scores (including ties), qualify for the individual final, which is the grand prix freestyle. The top eight teams, based on performances in the grand prix, go forward to the grand prix special, on which the team medals are decided.
“He definitely knew it was a big occasion, he’s been so concentrated the whole day today. He knew it was coming, he’s so intelligent. As soon as he went into the arena, he was just concentrating on me so hard,” said Lottie.
“At the end he really got a shock that there were people watching him – he was just so focused on me. It was such a great feeling.
“I was so happy with a lot of it – things like how calm he was in the extended walk, the extended trot, the extended canter, the canter pirouettes. There were a lot of things I was really happy with today.”
She explained how their partnership has grown together over the years, adding she has ridden the Lord Leatherdale son since he was a seven-year-old.
“We’ve really kind of grown up together and built a really good partnership. He’s so fun to ride and I love every day riding him.
“I went down [the centre line] and I was like, ‘Oh my god I’m at the Olympics, I’d better try and make this as good as I can!’ But I just enjoyed every second of it and I really was thinking the whole time, ‘just enjoy it’. He really felt like he was enjoying it as well,” she said.
“Even though it’s a shame there’s empty stands, there’s so much atmosphere in there it was just great fun to ride.
“You never know how it’s going to feel when you go into each arena and every arena is different. But I really trust him and he really trusts me now. So that kind of situation, we don’t really worry about too much because I know that he’s going to try his best whatever happens.”
Lottie will be riding to a Tom Hunt soundtrack in the special, where riders have been allowed to select their music, but it will not form part of the judging.
“I think we can definitely improve his piaffe/passage, and I really love riding the grand prix special test so I’m just excited to see what we can improve and hopefully we can make it even better,” she said, adding she is loving being part of Team GB.
“It’s been so fun and I really feel like I’m on such a great team, everyone gets on and supports each other so much and we have so much fun together.”
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