Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro Win Olympic Individual Gold, Adelinde/Parzival Silver, Laura/Mistral Hojris Bronze

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Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro parading their Olympic individual gold medal. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LONDON, Aug. 9–Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro won the Olympic individual gold medal Thursday to add to Great Britain’s team gold, beating Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival who took silver and team mate Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris the bronze.

The music for Charlotte’s freestyle that decided the individual medals unashamedly tugged at Britain’s heart strings and the crowd of 23,000 that packed the stadium at historic Greenwich Park overloking the city of London for the finale of two weeks of equestrian competition. The ride scored 90.089 per cent, a clear margin of victory over the two-time World Cup winner from the Netherlands on 88.196 per cent, a result that apparently sparked an initial emotional reaction in Adelinde’s homeland but quickly died down.

Laura and the 17-year-old Danish warmblood gelding that was the second oldest of the 18 horses that competed in the freestyle scored 84.339 per cent. Laura said later that Alf, as she calls Mistral Hojris, may have performed in his last championship.

Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill was the top fnishing German pair in fourth place with a score of 84.303 per cent, while Carl Hester, an owner of both Valegro and his Uthopia and Charlotte’s coach, finished in fifth place on 82.857 per cent.

Salinero was the oldest horse at 18 years and was brought out of retirement by Anky van Grunsven, who rode him to individual gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games, but joined the team this year to help them win bronze and finish sixth in the freestyle on 82.000 per cent.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the day was for the USA’s Steffen Peters who rode Ravel in his last competition and now will retire in California. The pair scored 77.286 per cent for 17th place, but had hoped to improve on the fourth place finish by the narrowest of margins at the 2008 Olympics.

These Games also marked the 60th anniversary of women joining equestrian sports at the Olympics and the three women on the medals podium symbolized the occasion.

Stephen Clarke, president of the seven-judge ground jury for the Games, described the differences between the first and second combinations as Adelinde and Parzival having “huge power and expression… but needed more lightness and self-carriage” while Charlotte and Valegro were seen as the reverse with a “little more self-carriage and harmony but not as much power.”

Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The 26-year-old Charlotte, who was constantly wiping away tears in the medal ceremony, said that Valegro suffered from “greeness and tiredness” but  “he has given me three amazing rides.”

Because there was only 10 minutes between Carl’s ride on Uthopia and her’s he could not coach her and she warmed up by herself.

“I’ve had Carl in my left ear for the last nine or 10 days,” she said. “If I havent learned anything by now, I need shooting.”

Charlotte confirmed that Valegro has not yet been sold, though like Uthopia he is on the market.

“He will go home to go in a field and have a lovely holiday,” she said. “He means the world to me. He has not been sold yet so I’m not going to worry about it.”

She has some young horses coming up and hopes to have one ready for Grand Prix next year.

Adelinde said that Parzival on whom she won the World Cup titles in 2011 and 2012 said “the horse felt great. It was powerful and very good… one of the best tests ever. I gave it my all.”

Laura Bechtolsheimer said that Mistral Hojris got “better and better each time he has been in the ring here. He had so much energy and power and enthusiasm . Today I wanted to do him justice.

“I just wanted to go out and enjoy it before so many fans. He rose to the occasion. He gave me a very special ride. He may or may not do another championships but to finish off this year this way was fantastic.”

Grand Prix Freestyle complete results:

Rk Bib Rider Horse +
1 226 Great Britain DUJARDIN Charlotte VALEGRO +
2 236 Netherlands CORNELISSEN Adelinde PARZIVAL +
3 224 Great Britain BECHTOLSHEIMER Laura MISTRAL HOJRIS +
4 229 Germany LANGEHANENBERG Helen DAMON HILL +
5 227 Great Britain HESTER Carl UTHOPIA +
6 239 Netherlands van GRUNSVEN Anky SALINERO +
7 230 Germany SCHNEIDER Dorothee DIVA ROYAL +
8 231 Germany SPREHE Kristina DESPERADOS +
9 237 Netherlands GAL Edward UNDERCOVER +
10 219 Spain MUNOZ DIAZ Juan Manuel FUEGO +
11 248 Sweden VILHELMSON SILFVEN Tinne DON AURIELLO +
12 216 Denmark ZU SAYN – WITTGENSTEIN Nathalie DIGBY +
13 205 Austria MAX-THEURER Victoria AUGUSTIN +
14 246 Sweden KITTEL Patrik SCANDIC +
15 233 Italy TRUPPA Valentina EREMO DEL CASTEGNO +
16 245 Portugal CARVALHO Goncalo RUBI +
17 254 United States of America PETERS Steffen RAVEL +
18 213 Denmark KASPRZAK Anna DONNPERIGNON +