Home » ‘I felt emotional’: personal best from Charlotte Dujardin and Gio secures Britain’s place in Tuesday’s Olympic medal decider

‘I felt emotional’: personal best from Charlotte Dujardin and Gio secures Britain’s place in Tuesday’s Olympic medal decider

Aimi Clark

Charlotte Dujardin said she “couldn’t ask for anymore today” from 10-year-old Gio, following the chestnut’s international personal best — 80.963% — which secured Great Britain’s place in Tuesday’s medal decider at the Tokyo Olympics.

Great Britain finished second in today’s Grand Prix and all three British riders — Charlotte, Lottie Fry (Everdale) and Carl Hester (En Vogue) — have also qualified for the freestyle on Wednesday (28 July), where they will compete for the individual medals.

Tuesday’s medal decider is the Special and all teams start their scores from scratch.

“I was so happy; he’s a very green inexperienced horse, so it was a bit of the unknown what to expect,” said Charlotte who was awarded one perfect 10, for the two-tempi changes.

“I couldn’t ask for any more today, he went in there and he tried his heart out. He’s just unbelievable; he keeps giving.

“I felt emotional on the last centreline because when you have a ride like that, win or lose that’s what it’s all about for me,” continued Charlotte. “He’s like a little powerhouse, he’s small but definitely mighty for where he is at in his training. I know he can give even more and I’m so happy with him.”

Those who qualified

Defending champions Germany finished at the top of the leaderboard with great rides from Dorothee Schneider (Showtime) and Isabell Werth (Bella Rose).

The top eight nations go through to the Special on Tuesday: Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, USA, Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal and Spain.

The two best from each of the six qualifying groups, followed by the next six-best individuals, are through to Wednesday’s individual medal decider. These are:

  • Charlotte Fry, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester (Great Britain)
  • Therese Nilshagen and Juliette Ramel (Sweden)
  • Cathrine Dufour, Carina Cassoe Kruth and Nanna Skodborg Merrald (Denmark)
  • Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud (Netherlands)
  • Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, Dorothee Schneider and Isabell Werth (Germany)
  • Sabine Schut-Kery, Adrienne Lyle and Steffen Peters (USA)
  • Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (Spain)
  • Rodrigo Torees (Portugal)

Back from injury

Dorothee Schneider’s route to Tokyo with her Rio team gold medallist Showtime has not been straightforward. The horse contested the European Championships in 2019 and then “he was at home because I wanted to keep him safe for the Olympics in 2020 — and then there were no Games.”

Dorothee’s plans to take the horse out in early 2021 were scuppered when she was injured in a fall in April — the horse dropped dead during a prize-giving ceremony — and suffered a broken collarbone.

“It took a little time to come back and it wasn’t so easy mentally, but we are back now and I’m happy again,” explained Dorothee. “He’s an experienced horse and once he gets out to compete three or four times he’s fine.”

Lack of audience will be influential

Isabell Werth was the last rider to compete and pipped Charlotte to first place in the final session, her experienced mare Bella Rose scoring 82.500%.

Bella Rose earned 13 perfect 10s from the judges: seven for piaffe, five for passage/piaffe transitions and one for the halt.

Isabell described the 17-year-old mare as “my dream horse”.

“When she’s in top shape she is the best — her way of moving, her character, her charisma, her piaffe/passage down the centre line. With Bella you have the feeling there is always something more possible.”

If Isabell Werth wins double gold in Tokyo she will become the most decorated female German Olympic athlete of all time. She mused that the lack of audience due to Covid-19 restrictions could be influential.

“Mostly you will see it in the medal decisions, especially in the Freestyle,” she said.

“There will be music but no crowd to carry the horses and riders and it makes a big difference. But on the other hand, we are so happy that we can be here, can compete and that we have an Olympic Games.”

Yellow for Tiggy

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the FEI have given special permission to Irish athletes across all equestrian disciplines to wear a yellow ribbon in memory of Tiggy Hancock, the young rider who tragically suffered a fatal fall last month.

Dressage rider Heike Holstein was the first to compete wearing her ribbon today. She said: “We are very proud to wear it, and grateful to the IOC and FEI for allowing us to do it.”

Main image by FEI/Christophe Tanniere

Profile image of Aimi Clark Aimi Clark


As the editor of Your Horse Online, Aimi oversees all our digital content. She has worked in equestrian media for over 15 years and joined Your Horse as editor in 2017. Aimi has owned and ridden horses all her life. She grew up on a farm in Devon and was a Tetcott & South Tetcott Pony Club member, joining with her first pony — a New Forest called Prudence — before moving on to a Danish Warmblood called Marcus and competing in all activities, but particularly enjoying eventing. She has rehomed and retrained more than 10 ex-racehorses and dabbled in point-to-pointing. There have been plenty of bumps, setbacks and heartache along the way, as well as a lot of fun and many successes. Aimi has two young children and she still loves ex-racehorses. You can often find her hacking her Thoroughbred in the Oxfordshire countryside, flying the flag for Your Horse's #Hack1000Miles challenge.

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