Charlotte Dujardin has spoken out following her elimination in yesterday’s grand prix at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Charlotte and Mount St John Freestyle posted a personal best of 81.91% to secure the silver medal for Britain, but the team slipped to fourth after blood was found on the mare’s flank during the post-test stewards’ check.
“Today has been one of the most difficult days of my career… I am truly devastated,” said Charlotte, who is now unable to continue in the individual competition as the grand prix serves as a qualifier for the grand prix special on Thursday (22 August).
“Freestyle and all the horses in my life have become my family, and all the moments that keep the team and myself in this unconditional love affair are the reasons we get up every day and do what we do,” she added in a heartfelt statement.
“The friendship, the partnerships and the priceless moments that make us smile far outweigh all the success, and I have always felt the privilege of being with these horses that give me so much. This is what makes us speak to them in our silly voices every day and hug them tightly for learning just the slightest thing. It’s the child within us, where most of our love of horses comes from and stays with us.”
Charlotte also addressed the many messages, both negative and positive, that she has received on social media following the incident.
“They say the challenges in life make us stronger and whilst I am heartbroken as I write this, please know I am grateful to all of you who have sent your well wishes. To those who have taken to social media in the cruellest of ways, each and every one of you is entitled to your opinion and I cannot stop that,” she said. “I can only thank those of you who believe in me; my team, the Blundell family, all who have gone above and beyond today. And lastly to the lovely Freestyle, for giving me such a beautiful ride in the arena and making me as proud as she always does.”
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Germany swept the board to defend their title and claim the gold medal, while the Netherlands moved up to silver after Charlotte’s elimination, and Sweden into bronze. Even without Charlotte’s huge score, the super performances of the remaining team members, Lottie Fry (Dark Legend), Gareth Hughes (Classic Briolinca) and Carl Hester (Hawtins Delicato), meant Britain finished out of the medals by less than 1%.
Lottie, Gareth and Carl will compete for individual medals in the grand prix special. Lottie will ride at 6.40pm (5.40pm UK time), Carl will compete at 8.20pm (7.20pm UK time) and Gareth will be in action at 9pm (8pm UK time).
Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H for extensive coverage from the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, out 29 August.