Under pressure, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro produced a fantastic 85.271% test to secure the silver medal for Great Britain at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France (26 August).
Charlotte needed to score over 81.329% to claim the silver, and she did so with room to spare, finishing on top individually.
The all-female Germans led from the get-go, boasting two plus-81% scores and finishing with a team total of 241.7 (average 80.56%). Britain finished on 231.343 (average 77.1143%) with the defending champions the Netherlands taking bronze on 227.4 (average 75.7%).
By finishing on the podium, the top three nations have all qualified for the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
“It’s one of the strongest teams we’ve ever had for Germany,” said Isabell Werth, despite the loss of Totilas to injury before the show.
“Being drawn first wasn’t good, but in 25 years of these championships, we’ve never been drawn first before. It was bound to happen at some point.”
The only real blip in Charlotte’s test was on the final centre line, in the last passage, when Valegro anticipated the final halt – as did Helen Langehanenberg’s chestnut stallion Damon Hill.
Charlotte said: “I couldn’t ask for more from Valegro. He’s been on great form here all week, but I did want to give him a smacked bottom on the final centre line.
“Ferdi [Eilberg, Michael’s father] had told me to ride all the way to the end and not give up, so I had him in my mind.”
The British chef d’equipe, Richard Waygood, said: “We came here with a realistic expectation of bronze, so to come out with silver is fantastic.”
On the pressure of going last and needing to reel in a big score, she added: “I just wanted to go out there and pull us back into a medal position.”
“I don’t envy her job,” said team-mate Carl Hester. “But we’re so lucky to have someone on the team who can take the pressure like that.”
After a below-par performance in Aachen where Charlotte’s test was riddled with mistakes, this performance was a welcome boost to her confidence.
“Of course individual gold would be great,” she said. “But really I’d be happy with any medal.”
- Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro GBR 85.271%
- Isabell Werth on Bella Rose 2 GER 81.529%
- Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW GER 81.357%
- Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival NOP 79.629%
- Kristina Sprehe on Desperados FRH GER 78.814%
- Victoria Max-Theurer on Augustin OLD AUT 77.114%
- Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on Don Auriello SWE 76.186%
- Steffen Peters on Legolas USA 75.843%
- Morgan Barbançon on Painted Black ESP 75.143%
- Laura Graves on Verdades USA 74.871%
14. Carl Hester on Nip Tuck GBR 74.186%
25. Michael Eilberg on Half Moon Delphi GBR 71.886%
38. Gareth Hughes on DV Stenkjers Nadonna GBR 69.714%
Kristina Sprehe on Desperados FRH 78.814%
Isabell Werth on Bella Rose 2 GER 81.529%
Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW 81.357%
(Fabienne Lütkemeier on D’Agostino FRH 73.586%)
SILVER Great Britain
Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro GBR 85.271%
Carl Hester on Nip Tuck 74.186%
Michael Eilberg on Half Moon Delphi 71.886%
Gareth Hughes on DV Stenkjers Nadonna GBR 69.714%
Adelinde Cornelissen on Parzival NOP 79.629
Diederik van Silfhout on Arlando NH NOP NED 73.414%
Hans Peter Minderhoud on Glock’s Johnson TN 74.357%
(Edward Gal on Glock’s Voice 72.414%)
Watch more dressage interviews
Charlotte Dujardin spoke to H&H after her test and told us exactly what was going on down that nerve-jangling final
H&H's dressage editor caught up with a disappointed Michael Eilberg after his test at WEG earlier today
H&H's dressage editor gets reaction from Edward Gal after his test at WEG earlier today
Horse & Hound caught up with Carl Hester after his grand prix test on Nip Tuck and asked for his
H&H dressage editor Alice Collins caught up with Gareth Hughes after his grand prix test with DV Stenkjers Nadonna