Gloucestershire dominates Olympic Individual dressage
7:00pm Wednesday 15th August 2012 in Sport
IT TOOK a dash of James Bond, a slice of Steve McQueen and the spirit of the Last Night of the Proms to lift Charlotte Dujardin to individual dressage gold with what was an unapologetically patriotic British routine, writes Daniel Schofield and Danny Hall.
For Newent’s Dujardin, aboard Valegro, gold in the musical freestyle (kur) dressage came just three days after winning the team event with fellow Gloucestershire riders Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer.
And it was Laura, from Ampney St Peter, who joined her on the podium with an individual bronze thanks to her mark of 84.339 per cent on Mistral Hojris (‘Alf’).
Sandwiching the two British entries was the Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen who took the lead with 88.196 in the penultimate round before Dujardin snatched the gold after a routine which included Land of Hope and Glory as well as the themes to the Great Escape and Live and Let Die. Her score of 90.089 per cent was an Olympic record.
It made the 27-year-old only the fourth British woman to win two golds at the same Olympics and the magnificent victory by our dressage girls capped Great Britain’s most successful equestrian campaign comprising three golds, a silver and a bronze.
The music for Charlotte’s routine was woven together by arranger Tom Hunt.
“Tom put it together and it is just amazing to ride to,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bechtolsheimer opted for themes from The Lion King.
“It was my favourite music as a child and Alf, though he is 17 years old, is just a big kid,” she said.
However, the large sums of money needed to fund a successful equine operation may see the successful GB team broken up.
“My parents don’t have a lot of money and it was only through my mum’s mum dying and the inheritance money that we could buy Fernandez at a sale and he became my first Grand Prix horse,” said Charlotte.
“We had ponies and I had to produce those ponies and make them something. We did not have the money to go and buy top ponies.
“My mum was very good at spotting a cheap one who was a good one and I had to do all the work. I learnt a great deal from that and that has helped me get to where I needed to be.”
But Valegro is owned by her mentor Hester and Roly Luard and there will be a great temptation to cash in on the Olympic success of the horse her coach calls ‘the best in the world – a consummate professional’. Valegro is still, after all, only ten.
Hester’s own mount, Uthopia, which carried him into fifth place, is also up for sale.
Not so Mistral Hojris, owned by the Bechtolsheimers for the last eight years, although his days at the top of the sport must be numbered.
Laura said: “Alf may do one more championship next year but definitely not another Olympics. I have some young horses that I am producing at home and I hope one of them will fill Alf’s very large shoes.”
Finally, an explanation as to why Dujardin and Bechtolsheimer chose different types of headgear, a regular question to the BBC TV presenters. Charlotte opted for the more pragmatic crash hat, while Laura went for the jaunty top hat.
Charlotte said: “I once fell off and fractured my skull so I now feel unsafe without the crash hat.” Laura admitted her attire had everything to do with style. “I would always wear a crash hat in training but in the ring I think it looks wrong with my tail coat,” she said. “It is just vanity.”
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