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Team GB has had a fantastic start in the Equestrian events at the Tokyo Olympics this week with two Bronze medals in the dressage. All three of our riders; Carl Hester, Lottie Fry and Charlotte Dujardin, rode fantastic tests this week.
Unfortunately, the BBC seem to have messed up the bidding on events at the Olympics this year, not showing the qualifiers and then saying they would show the rest of the dressage, then showing something else instead. Unsurprisingly this led to lots of angry dressage fans and having to resort to buying subscriptions to even more streaming services! I discovered that I could get 12 months of Discovery + for free through our Sky account so I have managed to catch up on a lot of the action.
Lottie Fry went first with her stallion Everdale and scored 77.096%, finishing top of her group. Carl was next with up and coming En Vogue. He was in a tough group, missing out on the top two places but with a score of 75.124% qualified for the next round. Charlotte was our last rider, coming second in her group with young horse Gio, or Pumpkin as we know him. They scored one of only four 80%+ scores in the qualifier with 80.963%.
We knew the Germans were going to be difficult to beat but after Carl and Lottie produced good tests we were sitting comfortably in second spot and I think we all thought we might just have silver in the bag. But Sabine Schut-Kery rode an incredible test for the USA, really putting the pressure on Charlotte. Despite a huge effort by Charlotte and Gio, they couldn’t quite catch the Americans, coming third by just 24 points! Winning our first Equestrian medal at Toyko.
18 combinations qualified for the Freestyle to compete for individual medals. All of Team GB scored 80%+ and finished in the top 13. Lottie Fry had a small mistake with Everdale, maybe a lack of communication. They finished 13th with 80.614%. I loved Carl’s test with En Vogue. I remember seeing En Vogue at Your Horse Live with Charlotte years ago and she talked about just how quirky he is. So I think it’s incredible he has made it to an Olympics, especially so young. They came 8th with a score of 81.818%.
Charlotte was second last to go with two Germans with incredible scores already sitting in Gold and Silver. The final German rider was after her and she was expected to take the Gold. So I think we were all quite nervous for her! She had a huge task, especially on such a young horse. A few tiny blips in an otherwise very difficult test meant she finished her test sitting in Bronze with a score of 88.543%. Luckily this was enough after the final rider had a disappointing test and she finished with another two medals!
I remember the days when we struggle to get on the podium at all in dressage. But this is our 3rd Olympics in a row with both team and individual medals. Not to take away from Charlotte who has been key to this, but I personally feel Carl Hester is the real driving force behind this change. He trained Charlotte, gave her the ride on the incredible Valegro as well as training and producing other horses and riders on the team. He just seems to have a way with producing young horses to really show their best.
Both Gio and En Vogue are young, inexperienced horses. Many questioned why they chose these horses and not some of their more experienced. But Carl just knows what he is doing! It’s all the small touches like making sure they make use of being able to use their own music in the Grand Prix Special to help the horses feel more comfortable. I think these two are now going to be hot contenders for the 2024 Olympics in Paris!