Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and the fabulous 14-year-old gelding, Valegro, were in a class of their own when posting an Olympic Dressage record score of 93.857 in the Grand Prix Freestyle to claim their second successive individual title today.
On an afternoon of high emotion in Deodoro Olympic Park it was two members of Friday’s gold-medal-winning German team who took silver and bronze, the multi-medalled Isabell Werth and Weihegold scoring 89.071 to finish ahead of world no. 1 Kristina Broring-Sprehe and Desperados on a mark of 87.142.
Dujardin could hardly contain her emotions after securing the victory. “He couldn’t have done anymore” she said of the much-loved horse who is known at home as Blueberry, “I was thinking this could be the last time” she added before bursting into tears. The British partnership hold all the world records in their sport, and today’s result was just short of the Freestyle record of 94.30 per cent they set at Olympia Horse Show in London (GBR) in 2014.
Dujardin talked about her own expectations. “We set the world record at 94 so I knew it was possible, but to come and do it again here at the Olympics is quite special. Today was magic, in London there was no pressure to take gold but today I was nervous because I felt the expectation to deliver. But trotting around the arena before the start, Blueberry felt so good it just put a smile on my face and I just knew it was going to be ok. I felt he knew what I was thinking in there and he looked after me, he did his very best. I have a partnership, a connection with this horse that nothing is going to break, he has a heart of gold”, she said.
The pair have lit up the sport since coming together in 2011. “To think what he has achieved in the last four or five years, it seems almost impossible”, the British rider said, admitting that retirement is “on the cards” for Valegro now. “We’ll discuss it when we get home, and he definitely won’t be doing another Olympic Games or a big championship. I owe it to him to finish at the top”, she pointed out.
As for her own plans, marriage is at last on the horizon. Her partner, Dean Wyatt Golding, proposed to her during the London 2012 Games “and I said yes” she explained today, “bless him, he’s been waiting a long time, we’ve been together nine years but it’s definitely going to happen now!” Somehow it seems very likely that a horse with three Olympic gold medals around his neck could be a prominent member of the wedding party.
Source and photography: FEI