It was mission accomplished for the Equestrian Team GBR dressage quartet when achieving their primary aim of qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, picking a bronze medal up as a well-deserved bonus.
After Spencer Wilton and Emile Faurie put GB in with a fighting chance on day one of the Helgstrand Dressage FEI World Team Championship, it was down to two familiar faces, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin to produce a piece of riding brilliance with their two young charges, Hawtins Delicato and Mount St John Freestyle respectively, who had less than a dozen Grand Prix performances between them.
Carl came into the sweltering arena with the ten year old he jointly owns with Lady Anne Evans and Ann Cory and looked like they were seasoned Championship regulars and scored 77.28 per cent- a new personal best for the exciting duo.
He has always held the horse in high regard and that potential was realised on the world stage.
He said:“I’ve had him since he was five; I saw him canter by at a show and just saw his hind leg and thought ‘I have to have that horse.’ I then found he was bred and owned by a small stud just three miles from home. The last person I saw as I went in was his breeder Judith (Davis) and I was proud that she was able to come and see him compete,” he said.
Charlotte Dujardin was the first of the chasing pack to go with Mount St John Equestrian’s Mount St John Freestyle. At just nine, she was one of the youngest in the field but scored 77.67% to give Team GBR a final score of 229.45 for the others to match.
Afterwards, Charlotte told the world’s media; “What an amazing horse to come here and do that! To cope with the environment and produce a test like that, I’m over the moon with her. There’s a lot of expectation on her and I’m so proud that she didn’t bother with anything, she’s so exciting for the future. “
So the audience, bathed in the North Carolina September sunshine, settled in for a battle royal in the final session where it would go to the wire for the medals.
Germany’s Isabel Werth was the first contender with the mare she holds most dear, who had the luxury of knowing that her team had secured gold even without her score so it was just down to securing qualification for tomorrow’s Grand Prix Special. A spectacular 84.82% was the score to take the lead.
For the third FEI championship in succession, Germany won to cement their current domination of dressage with a reversal of the Rio places below with the USA in silver and Team GBR in bronze.
Chef d’Equipe Caroline Griffith commented; “This performance is truly exciting for the future. These young horses and the way the our riders have produced them is just incredible. I’m proud of them; it was a great atmosphere today which gave them all great confidence. To come here and secure our Tokyo qualification and come away with a medal just shows the quality of horses and riders we have. Watch out world!”
All four British riders finished in the top 30 so are through to Friday’s Grand Prix Special when the first individual medals will be decided.