Germany has taken out team gold in the dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, ahead of the USA in silver and Great Britain in bronze.
There were mixed reviews for the new team format which separates athletes into groups and reduces team numbers to three, with all scores to count. But there was no denying the increased intensity and excitement it created in the deciding Grand Prix Special. While the Germans came out clear champions, the battle for silver and bronze was a thriller to the very end.
Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl stole the show with the new record Olympic Grand Prix Special score of 84.666 with Dalera, and team-mate Isabell Werth posted 83.298 with a beautiful performance from Bella Rose after Dorothee Schneider and Showtime put 80.086 on the board. But a relatively unknown American — Sabine Schut-Kery, riding Sancero — produced the third-best score of the competition that decided the fate of the team medals.
Great Britain looked set for silver in the early stages after Carl Hester and En Vogue posted 78.344, while it seemed Denmark and the USA were locked into a game of cat-and-mouse for the bronze. But the Americans couldn’t have been more rock-solid, Adrienne Lyle’s 76.109 with Salvino giving them a firm basis on which to build before Steffen Peters and Sussenkasper backed that up with 77.766.
Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian were the last pair to go for Denmark, but 77.720 wouldn’t be enough to keep her country in the race, especially when the USA’s Schut-Kery followed with an incredible 81.596. That just knocked the Danes right out of contention and suddenly the British were under threat for their silver medal spot too. It would take a big score from Charlotte Dujardin and Gio to keep Britain out in front after Lottie Fry’s 76.894 with Everdale.
And although Dujardin’s inexperienced chestnut gelding did his best, his 79.544 just wouldn’t be enough.
Last to go, von Bredow-Werndl strutted to a score of 84.666 to put the icing on the German cake. And that was despite a whoopsie in the one-tempis when her mare needed a toilet break. As von Bredow-Werndl said afterwards it was just another day at the office for the lovely, talented Dalera. “It didn’t feel difficult actually, for her it all seems to be easy!”
It was the seventh Olympic gold medal for Isabell Werth, who had a little extra help with a special pair of riding boots: “I’ve had them since 1991 and I’ve worn them at every Championship since then – they are my lucky boots!” she said.
If Werth can add one more in the much-anticipated Freestyle for the Individual title then she will match the German record set by rower, Birgit Fischer, who has won 8 gold and 4 silver Olympic medals during her sparkling career.
The result also means that Charlotte Dujardin has become the joint most decorated British female Olympian, following her double gold in London 2012, and individual gold and team silver in Rio 2016. She joins rower Dame Katherine Grainger and tennis player Kathleen McKane Godfree on five medals, with Dujardin having the most gold medals of the three.