The Grand Prix Special…London, the dressage team medals

8 Aug

Everyone knows the results:

GBR  –  Gold

GER  –  Silver

Ned –    Bronze

There were so many stories, so many opinions;  so many chances taken  for success, so many chances not taken, so many chances that ended in mistakes.

In the end, it came down to what Carl Hester said last year at the European Championships in Rotterdam when the British appeared from ‘nowhere’ and won the team gold:

“We have had great riders and great horses before this.

But right now, we have THREE great rider/horse combinations.”

And that is what it took in London for the team medals.

Oh, people can argue about this horse was over-scored and that one under-scored  (I certainly have) , but that was not the story here. The story, very simply, is that the bar got raised. It took foundation–horses moving in uphill balance, staying in rhythm, staying in harmony with their human athlete partner. It took athleticism from both partners.  It took just the right combination of nerves/sensitivity and go-for-the jugular-get out of my way-focus. It took TRAINING, not buying.

Dressage has been looking for a hero since we  lost Ed-and-Toto. Edward Gal himself has found a wonderful new partner in Undercover, and time will tell how  much magic will be made yet again.

But here and now , in London, we got  a wonderful fantasy in 3 acts:

Act I:

Carl Hester and Uthopia set a new Olympic record for the Grand Prix Special.

Carl bought Uti as a baby, nearly lost the ride late last year in the feeding frenzy that was Olympic madness gone wild as horses changed hands before the December 31 deadline set for Olympic ownership, and then had all sorts of luck leading up to London.

Act II:

Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen and her great partner Parzival turn in one of the magic rides of their lives and set the bar higher, breaking Carl’s score.

Act III:

Charlotte Dujardin, who has worked for and with Carl over the last five years, made history on ANOTHER horse Carl bought as a green 3 year-old and that Charlotte herself trained up to set the records here and elsewhere. Yes, with 18 months of GP competition under her belt  — and maybe  two Grand Prix Specials– Charlotte rode Valegro to yet a higher score and set the newest Olympic record for the GPS.

My favorite headline so far is from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Billionaire’s Daughter, Donkey Rider Clinch Dressage Gold”

Act IV:

When all the scores are added up ,including British teammate Laura Bechtolsheimer and her much-decorated partner, Mistral Hojris–the British had won the gold. Which meant that for the first time since 1964  , the Germans had lost gold and had to be content with silver.



And of course Carl Hester. His special sympathetic riding and solid training got the ultimate showcase. Right time, right stage, right horseman. His years of riding donkeys up and down the hills of his home on the island of Sark have paid off.

As this is a modern fairy tale, both Uthopia and Valegro are for sale as soon as the Freestyle is over.

Let the bidding wars begin.


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