The two most successful dressage riders in history battled it out today in the Olympic freestyle for the individual medals, but in the end it was no contest Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, the horse who has set all the records for the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle, repeated their 2012 Olympic gold with a score of 93.857.
An emotional Charlotte, for whom tears came as she performed her final halt, said, “I just knew he couldn’t have done any more. I felt like he’d done his very best.”
While this is doubtless Valegro’s last championship, the exact retirement plans for the horse who’s been everywhere and done everything are still pending.
Germany’s Isabell Werth took the silver on Wiehegold OLD to become the most decorated Olympic equestrian medalist ever. Her score was 89.071 percent, and like the others in the top three, her artistic score was over 90.
But no one came close to Valegro’s 97.714 for that mark, and he was the only one to hit 90 for technical merit. Charlotte and “Blueberry,” as he is known, were the second pair at this Olympics to repeat their London 2012 individual success. Germany’s Michael Jung took his second straight individual gold on Sam in eventing last week.
Though it was expected that Charlotte would be at the top of the podium again, and two Germans would take the other places (world number one Kristina Broring-Sprehe earned the bronze with Desperados on 87.142), there was plenty of excitement in this finals.
The USA’s Laura Graves, who clinched bronze for her team last week with her unwavering ride on Verdades, produced another spectacular performance during her Olympic debut to wind up fourth on 85.196 for a test that got an 88.429 artistic rating, with 81.964 for technical merit. It was her third personal best at these Games.
It was a great Olympics for the U.S.dressage contingent, with Steffen Peters winding up 12th on Legolas and Allison Brock 15th on Rosevelt. It was her first Olympic appearance.
One of the biggest surprises was Spain’s Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez of Spain, fifth on Lorenzo (ahead of Germany’s Dorothee Schneider and Showtime FRH). His 83.553 percent performance ended with passage down the centerline that he rode one-handed, as a delighted crowd clapped in rhythm to his music.