Equestrian: Charlotte Dujardin puts Great Britain in gold medal position in dressage

 

Charlotte Dujardin continued her remarkable rise to the top of world dressage today by putting Great Britain in team gold medal position and smashing an Olympic record.

The 26-year-old's breathtaking Olympic debut with Valegro gained a standing ovation from a capacity 23,000 crowd at Greenwich Park.

Their grand prix score of 83.66% was more than four percentage points better than the previous Olympic best of Germany's Kristina Sprehe that stood for just two hours.

The team competition resumes and concludes next Tuesday with the grand prix special test - Enfield-born Dujardin is world record holder in that discipline - with Britain having never previously won an Olympic dressage medal.

Their current team score of 79.40% - the average mark of all three riders Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer - is 0.56% above Germany, with Holland (76.80%) third.

Dujardin's score was the best over two days of competition, with Dutch star Adelinde Cornelissen in second, Germany's Helen Langehanenberg third, Hester fifth and Bechtolsheimer seventh.

Barely 20 months ago, Gloucestershire-based Dujardin had never ridden a competitive grand prix test, but today's performance has increased the prospect of double Olympic gold.

The individual competition - freestyle to music - takes place next Thursday and closes the Olympic equestrian schedule.

When Dujardin performed her Olympic freestyle routine during an event at Hartpury in Gloucestershire last month she set a new British record of 90.65%.

"It is an amazing opportunity to ride here, and I really wanted to enjoy it," said Dujardin, who was only 0.42% short of equalling Edward Gal's world grand prix record with Totilas.

"I would hate to have gone in there, put too much pressure on myself and made mistakes.

"I just wanted to go in and do what I do normally and have fun. Having the crowd behind me like that was amazing.

"I was hoping for an 80% score, so to come to the Olympics and smash that is a little bit crazy, but I had such fun.

"It was such a buzz, I can't tell you. I just wanted to get in there and do my piece."

Dujardin's horse is part-owned by her training mentor and team-mate Hester, and he watched from the stands as she produced a test that left no-one in any doubt about the combination's quality.

"Valegro was just unbelievable. He is only 10 and we only started grand prix last year," she added.

"He knows when he gets in there what he has got to do. Touch wood, he never lets me down. There was not a single moment of worry.

"I just enjoyed it from start to finish, and then when you stop and you have the crowd responding like that, it's just magic.

"I wanted to pull out a score for everybody, and I am wearing my lucky breeches - the ones I broke the world record in - so maybe they helped."

If Britain land team gold in four days' time, it will be the first time since 1972 that Germany has not won the Olympic title.

Earlier in the day, Britain's Richard Davison produced a strong performance to secure grand prix special qualification.

Davison, at 56 the oldest member of Team GB at London 2012, is competing in the Games as an individual.

The top 11 individual scores, plus all three members of the leading seven teams after today, go forward to the grand prix special stage.

And Davison showed all his experience aboard 13-year-old Artemis, gaining a grand prix score of 72.81% to stand 18th overall.

It was not easy, though, as a torrential downpour during the final stages of his warm-up tested horse and rider.

"Boy, did I work hard," said Staffordshire-based Davison, who is competing in his fourth Olympics and is a former European team medal winner.

"The rain came during the last 10 minutes of our warm-up time, and Artemis got scared and jumpy, so the last 10 minutes before I went into the arena was not what I had been dreaming about.

"In the arena I just knew I had to keep him busy because he was scared. It was like taking a child to school on its first day.

"The beginning of the test was tricky, but as time went on he started to come back to me."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific