By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LONDON, Aug. 3–A performance by Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin that stunned 23,000 spectators into silence and earned the pair the highest ever Olympic Grand Prix score Friday, gave Great Britain a lead over Germany of a little over one-half of a percentage point midway through the London Games team competition.
Whatever happens in the Grand Prix Special Tuesday, Britain is virtually guaranteed to win its first ever medal in 100 years of Olympic dressage–and if it is gold will end Germany’s supremacy that has been uninterrupted since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
The partnership between Charlotte, 26, and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding was the climax of two days of the best horses and riders in the world battling for team medals at the historic and atmosphere-laden Greenwich Park, in which only three pairs were scored above 80 per cent–Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival of the Netherlands and Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW of Germany joining the British combination.
Britain leads the team standings with 79.407 per cent–the average of the scores of the three team members–with Germany on 78.845 per cent and the Netherlands third with 76.809 per cent. After the top three are Denmark on 73.845 per cent, USA 72.801 per cent, Spain 72.467 per cent and Sweden 71.940 per cent.
Only those seven teams move on to the Grand Prix Special scheduled for next Tuesday that is the second phase of the team competition, the first time the two-stage format has been used in an Olympics and so far has fulfilled the hopes of the creators of generating massive excitement. Each of the two phases count equally for the final result.
Poland, Australia and Canada did not make the cut and the Olympics is over for those three dressage teams.
Friday’s performance by Charlotte and Valegro came three months after the partnership set a new world Grand Prix Special score in Germany and assured the British team of Carl Hester and Uthopia and Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris who had both ridden Thursday, the first day of Grand Prix, of the slim lead over Germany.
“Unbelievable,” Charlotte said after the ride. “I wanted to come here and have fun. I wanted to go out and show what this horse can do. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I loved every minute. When you finish your final halt it is wonderful. The applause is just amazing…”
Tuesday’s Grand Prix Special is shaping up to be one of the hghlights of the entire Olympics in a nation that has a long history of horse sports and the Olympic equestrian events garner headlines in the mass circulation daily newspapers. Tickets to all equestrian events have been sold out for months and scalping is illegal in Britain–dozens of scalpers are arrested daily–but for those willing to break the law, the price of entry is likely to be high.
The Special has been formatted so that riders from the top four nations will go last, guaranteeing eage-of-the-seat excitement to the end.
Will Connell, the Team GB Equestran Team Leader, said: “I’m very proud of the team effort that has put us slightly in front of Germany at the half way stage. This is absolutely where we wanted to be, however it’s still far too close to call and one mistake could change it all. The next three days will be about relaxing and then building back up again and we’ll look forward to the competition concluding!”
More to come
Results of the Grand Prix, first of two phases of the team competition (click + for individual judge’s marks)
|1||226||DUJARDIN C||VALEGRO||83.663 Q||+|
|2||236||CORNELISSEN A||PARZIVAL||81.687 Q||+|
|3||229||LANGEHANENBERG H||DAMON HILL||81.140 Q||+|
|4||231||SPREHE K||DESPERADOS||79.119 Q||+|
|5||227||HESTER C||UTHOPIA||77.720 Q||+|
|6||254||PETERS S||RAVEL||77.705 Q||+|
|7||224||BECHTOLSHEIMER L||MISTRAL HOJRIS||76.839 Q||+|
|8||230||SCHNEIDER D||DIVA ROYAL||76.277 Q||+|
|9||233||TRUPPA V||EREMO DEL CASTEGNO||75.790 Q||+|
|10||219||MUNOZ DIAZ JM||FUEGO||75.608 Q||+|
|11||237||GAL E||UNDERCOVER||75.395 Q||+|
|12||213||KASPRZAK A||DONNPERIGNON||75.289 Q||+|
|13||216||ZU SAYN – WITTGEN.||DIGBY||74.924 Q||+|
|14||248||VILHELMSON SILFVEN||DON AURIELLO||74.271 Q||+|
|15||246||KITTEL P||SCANDIC||74.073 Q||+|
|16||239||VAN GRUNSVEN A||SALINERO||73.343 Q||+|
|17||205||MAX-THEURER V||AUGUSTIN||73.267 Q||+|
|18||225||DAVISON R||ARTEMIS||72.812 Q||+|
|19||217||BARBANCON MESTRESM||PAINTED BLACK||72.751 Q||+|
|20||210||HOLZER A||BREAKING DAWN||71.809 Q||+|
|21||207||FASSAERT C||DONNERFEE||71.793 Q||+|
|22||245||CARVALHO G||RUBI||71.520 Q||+|
|23||255||VAN OLST A||CLEARWATER||71.322 Q||+|
|24||228||BALKENHOL A||DABLINO||70.973 Q||+|
|25||238||VAN DER MEER P||UZZO||70.912 Q||+|
|26||222||LINDH M||MAS GUAPO||70.729 Q||+|
|27||252||KONYOT T||CALECTO V||70.456 Q||+|
|28||223||MICHEL J||RIWERA||70.410 Q||+|
|29||221||KANERVA E||SPIRIT||70.395 Q||+|
|30||251||EBELING J||RAFALCA||70.243 Q||+|
|37||203||OATLEY L||SANDRO BOY||69.377||+|
|39||220||MARTIN DOCKX J.||GRANDIOSO||69.043 Q||+|
|41||209||BROOKS J||D’ NIRO||68.526||+|
|44||247||TELDE M||SANTANA||67.477 Q||+|
|47||208||TAVARES DE ALMEIDA||PASTOR||65.866||+|
|K||ERNES Wim (NED)|
|E||ROUDIER Jean-Michel (FRA)|
|H||TORNBLAD Leif (DEN)|
|C||ROCKWELL Gary (USA (President)|
|M||CLARKE Stephen (GBR)|
|B||ALONSO Maribel (MEX)|
|F||EISENHARDT Evi (GER)|