Britain has won team bronze in the dressage at the World Equestrian Games, with Germany taking gold and the USA winning silver.
The defending champions produced brilliant performances to safely secure their 12th gold medal in the 52-year history of the championships. But there was a gritty battle for silver and bronze between Britain, Sweden and the home team.
Spencer Wilton and Super Nova II (74.581) and Emile Faurie with Dono di Maggio (72.795) put the British team in with a fighting chance on day one of the Helgstrand Dressage FEI World Team Championship.
It was all down to the king and queen of British dressage to produce a piece of riding brilliance and bring the medals home.
‘Ride of my life’
Hawtins Delicato and Mount St John Freestyle have less than a dozen Grand Prix performances between them, but when Carl and ‘Del’ entered the sweltering arena they looked like seasoned campaigners.
The 10-year-old gelding was confident in his work and the only noticeable blip was a missed change in the zig-zag. Carl was clearly delighted with their score 77.283, which was a new personal best for the exciting duo.
“I knew I’d have to have the ride of my life today, and I did,” he said. “I had 77% in my mind as my target, not that I told anyone that! I couldn’t be more pleased, but I’m surprised.
“Earlier in the week I didn’t think he’d cope, but I rode him this morning in the area in walk and he felt relaxed so I thought I might have a good ride. He absolutely put his heart into that test.
“I had a mistake in my zig zag, which is usually his party piece so that was annoying. Then I could feel myself over-riding so I said ‘sit still, sit still’ to myself.”
‘Over the moon’
Then it was Charlotte’s turn, with Mount St John Freestyle, who was one of the youngest in the field at just nine years old. The first piaffe was a bit green, but the passage before and after was spectacular.
A mistake in the one-time changes proved costly for what was approaching 80%, but her final score of 77.67% gave Team GBR a total of 229.628.
“What an amazing horse to come here and do that!” said Charlotte. “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. There were a couple of mistakes, but easy to fix and I couldn’t really have asked for more from her. She’s a real trier.”
‘Lightness and elegance’
Germany’s Isabel Werth had the luxury of knowing her team had secured gold even without her score, so she just had to secure her qualification for today’s Grand Prix Special. She rode a stunning test with Bella Rose and was awarded 84.829 to take the lead.
“Most people know that my heart is so close to this horse,” said the six-time Olympic gold medallist who was also on winning teams at WEG in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2014.
“She is a gift, I saw that when I first met her as a three-year-old and she has never lost it. Her lightness, her elegance, she never wants to make a mistake, she’s full of power and energy. It is the greatest pleasure to work with her!”
Her team mate Sonke Rothenberger was also in the eighties with a score of 81.444 on Cosmo. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera B finished on 76.677, while Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr. scored 75.062, for a team score of 242.950.
Team USA finished on 233.136, with Laura Graves and Verdades achieving the highest mark of 81.537. Sweden just missed on a podium place, with a team score of 229.456.
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