Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle have won individual bronze in the Helgstrand Dressage Grand Prix Special at the World Equestrian Games.
The pair wowed the judges with a spectacular performance to achieve a personal best of 81.48%, and gain a podium place in only their third Grand Prix Special together.
Charlotte was just 0.23% behind home crowd favourites Laura Graves and Verdades who took silver on 81.71%. Isabell Werth and Bella Rose were the convincing gold medallists on 86.24%.
“I’m absolutely delighted!” said Charlotte, who shed a few tears on her way out of the arena. “She’s only nine and that was just her third Special. I knew going in I had nothing to lose and rode her every inch of the way.
“That feeling I had in the arena today was amazing and for me, it didn’t matter if the test won me a medal as I knew she’d given me everything.”
Carl Hester was also competing on a young horse, with little experience at this level, but Hawtins Delicato duo showed no sign of nerves.
The 10-year-old produced a superb test, with just one mistake in the one-time tempi canter changes to score 77.21% and place ninth.
“I have to be happy with 77% plus in only his second Special and his first Championship. After all, he’s only a young horse,” said Carl. “I had a costly mistake in the one-time changes and in the heat and humidity the final centreline really took all his energy.
“It’s only when you come to shows like this you learn about your horse and he’s also learned a lot here. I was happy with the team result, as that’s what we came here to do, but I’m equally happy today.
Emile Faurie and Dono Dimaggio scored 70.38%. At over 18hh, the 10-year-old found the heat and humidity testing and he made a few unfortunate mistakes.
“It wasn’t his best performance today,” said Emile. “He’s a massive horse and the last few days have taken a lot out of him, but he really tried.
“I gave him a very short warm up, but he’s inexperienced. He’s a brilliant horse and he’ll be even better next year. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“The trip has been a great experience for him and for me, it’s been a great honour to be part of this amazing team. Other nations are envious of the great team spirit we have.”
Sadly Spencer Wilton had to withdraw Super Nova II, 20 minutes before he was due to compete. ‘Neville’ got over excited in the team bronze medal ceremony and tweaked something, which meant he wasn’t 100%.
“I’m obviously devastated for myself and Jen [Goodman, the owner], as we were so looking forward to building on what we achieved in the Grand Prix,” said Spencer. “Prize givings are not Neville’s favourite thing and normally I wouldn’t do them with him, but we’re at a Championship.
“I helped the team secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 and that’s my primary focus. So with that in mind, his welfare was key to this tough decision.”
Both Charlotte and Carl are through to Sunday’s finale Freestyle, when Charlotte will be debuting a new floorplan.
“I have new music but I’m keeping it under wraps for now,” she said. “I love it though and have chosen something quite girly to suit her.
“I’ve never done a three-test show with her, so I’m not sure what she’ll have left in the tank, but she’s such a trier. She’ll have an easy day tomorrow and then see what Sunday brings.”
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