Dujardin, Germans Lead Olympic Dressage After Day 1

Dujardin, Germans Lead Olympic Dressage After Day 1

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Great Britain’s record-breaking defending Olympic champions, produced the top score in the Dressage Grand Prix, held Aug. 11 at the 2016 Olympic Equestrian Venue, in Deodoro, Brazil.

Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Great Britain’s record-breaking defending Olympic champions, produced the top score in the Dressage Grand Prix, held Aug. 11 at the 2016 Olympic Equestrian Venue, in Deodoro, Brazil. But not even the sport’s shining star could halt the steady march of the Germans, who will attempt to claim their 13th Olympic team title on Aug. 12.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Isabell Werth helped anchor the German total at 81.295 with her test aboard Weihegold. But the British team secured a score of 79.252, just over two percentage points behind, while Team USA is sitting in the bronze medal spot another two points back. 

Only the top six teams from the Grand Prix go through to the Grand Prix Special team medal decider, so Spain, France, Australia, Brazil, and Japan have now slipped out of contention, leaving the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark still in the race. 

Germany was already out in front after two riders from each side competed on Day 1 and looked set to gain an even bigger advantage after Kristina Broring-Sprehe, the current world No. 1 rider, posted a 82.257 score with Desperados.

When Dujardin’s London 2012 gold-medal-winning teammate Carl Hester had some tricky moments with Nip Tuck, the British looked vulnerable. The 12-year-old gelding is notoriously spooky, and he lived up to his reputation.    

Dujardin rode to the rescue, however, and her 14-year-old gelding produced one of his classic performances. “I can’t help but smile when I ride Valegro,” she said. “Today I didn’t even have to ask him to do a thing, he just did it himself. He enjoyed it and it felt easy, he just tries his heart out.” 

A score of 85.071 put her out in front individually and brought Team Great Britain back up into second place, but it’s still tight at the top as the action resumes on Day 2. 

The Americans will also have to stay on their toes to fend off the Dutch, who are hot on their heels, less than one percentage point behind. Olympic veteran Steffen Peters boosted Team USA’s chances with a mark of 77.614 with Legolas.

“This was one of the biggest tests of my horse’s life and it’s difficult, but there wasn’t a single point we gave away,” he said. “He delivered the test I dreamed of for my team. It’s going to be tight here now for the team placings though.”

And he was right, with teammate Laura Graves pulling Team USA closer to the top of the leaderboard after scoring 78.071 with Verdades. 

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