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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home