Bronze brilliance from Dujardin
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After just a single year out of the Team GBR squad, Charlotte Dujardin firmly announced she was back on the world stage today with a massive statement of intent with Mount St John Freestyle at the Helgstrand Dressage FEI World Championships.
The double Olympic Champion and nine year old Fidermark mare wowed the judges and crowd with a spectacular performance worthy of 81.48%, a new personal best and individual bronze medal in only their third Grand Prix Special together.
Home crowd favourites Laura Graves and Verdades took silver with 81.71% to match their team medal while red hot pre-Games favourites Isabell Werth and Bella Rose were the convincing gold medallists on 86.24%.
A beaming Charlotte, who shed a few tears on her way out of the arena after the momentous performance, said; “I’m absolutely delighted! She’s only nine and that was just her third [Grand Prix] Special. I knew going in I had nothing to lose and rode her every inch of the way. That feeling I had in the arena today was amazing and for me, it didn’t matter if the test won me a medal as I knew she’d given me everything.”
Earlier in the day, Team GBR’s first rider to go was Emile Faurie with Hof Kasselmann’s Dono Dimaggio. At over 18hh tall, the ten year old has found the heat and humidity testing and today a few mistakes kept the score to a most respectable 70.38%. Emile has great faith in the horse and, while it wasn’t what he’d hoped for, he knows there’s much to come; “It wasn’t his best performance today. He’s a massive horse and the last few days have taken a lot out of him but he really tried. I gave him a very short warm up but he’s inexperienced; he’s a brilliant horse and he’ll be even better next year. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. The trip has been a great experience for him and for me, it’s been a great honour to be part of this amazing team. Other nations are envious of the great team spirit we have,” he said.
About 20 minutes before Spencer Wilton was due to compete with Jen Goodman’s Super Nova II, the sad news came through that the duo had withdrawn. ‘Neville’ got himself very excited in yesterday’s bronze medal ceremony and tweaked something which meant he wasn’t quite 100% and the decision was made.
Spencer said; “I’m obviously devastated for myself and Jen as we were so looking forward to building on what we achieved in the Grand Prix. Prize givings are not Neville’s favourite thing and normally I wouldn’t do them with him but we’re at a Championship. I helped the team secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 and that’s my primary focus so with that in mind, his welfare was key to this tough decision.”
After a magical performance yesterday, Carl Hester kicked off the final session of the day with his own, Ann Cory and Lady Anne Evans’s British bred Hawtins Delicato. It was another majestic performance from the maestro with just a mistake in the one-time tempi canter changes keeping the score at 77.21% which was enough for an eventual ninth place.
“I have to be happy with 77% plus in only his second Special and his first Championship, after all, he’s only a young horse. I had a costly mistake in the onetime changes and in the heat and humidity the final centreline really took all his energy,” said Carl.
“It’s only when you come to shows like this you learn about your horse and he’s also learned a lot here. I was happy with the team result as that’s what we came here to do but I’m equally happy today,” he continued.
A good day at the office all in all with the two young horses fulfilling their potential and finishing in the world’s top ten with a bronze medal to celebrate. Both combinations are through to Sunday’s finale Freestyle and Charlotte will be debuting a new floorplan.
“I have new music but I’m keeping it under wraps for now. I love it though and have chosen something quite girly to suit her. I’ve never done a three test show with her so I’m not sure what she’ll have left in the tank but she’s such a trier. She’ll have an easy day tomorrow and then see what Sunday brings,” she said.