Individual Olympic dressage gold has gone to Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl riding TSF Dalera, who pinned compatriot Isabell Werth into silver on Bella Rose, with Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin taking the bronze on Gio.
It was the culmination of four days of competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park. The new champion was always on song, throwing down the biggest score in the opening Grand Prix and then setting a new Olympic record in Tuesday’s Grand Prix Special to secure the team title for her country. On Wednesday night she produced another performance that oozed such class and elegance that once she left the arena, with a score of 91.732 on the board, it seemed impossible she could be beaten with four combinations to go. They received a mark of “10” from the judges 81 times.
Third-last to go was Isabell Werth, who has more Championships and Olympic medals in her trophy cabin than any other equestrian. Never the shrinking violet, she is not used to playing second fiddle to her own teammates and with Bella Rose she produced one of her typically spellbinding performances that kept onlookers glued to every move. But when her score of 89.675 was posted Von Bredow-Werndl burst into tears and fled back to the stables, overcome by the possibility that Olympic gold was now within reach. They received a “10” 66 times.
Second-last to go was defending double Olympic champion, Charlotte Dujardin, from Great Britain, but not with the now-retired superstar Valegro with whom she dominated the sport in recent years but instead with a 10-year-old gelding who had previously only ever competed at one international show, in Germany in April.
Dujardin’s Gio gave his all for a score of 88.543 which put him in bronze medal position, receiving the maximum mark eight times.
Dorothee Schneider was the last of the German riders, but her horse, Showtime, was right off form and they dropped to 15th place with 79.432.
Von Bredow-Werndl said she had a new level of belief in TSF Dalera’s potential since producing a great performance at the 2019 European Championships.
“We didn’t have such a lucky start in the Grand Prix or the Special there, but in the freestyle, we showed that anything is possible and from then on I began believing the Olympic dream could come true.”
Silver medallist Werth was happy with her mare, and the competition. “This was a tough sporting competition and that’s what we all want to have and love to have. You can’t have ten winners, you can only have one, that is sport,” she said. She was the last German rider to take the Individual Olympic title, with Gigolo at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, USA.
Werth has now won 12 Olympic medals: 6 team golds, 1 individual gold and 5 individual silver medals, dating back to Barcelona in 1992.
In winning her sixth medal, Dujardin has overtaken rower, Dame Katherine Grainger, to become Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian of all time, was delighted with her bronze. And she was thrilled with Gio.
“I was never going down without a fight but Pumpkin (Gio) has only done one other freestyle in his life and for him to go out there with as little experience as he has is truly outstanding. We never did this floorplan before and he didn’t know what he was doing and I didn’t know what I was doing but we just went out to have a really good time and enjoy ourselves, and we did that. I’m really proud of him,” she said.
“My journey with Valegro was a life-changing experience and to find another Valegro is near enough impossible. But I’m incredibly proud to have another horse here at the Olympic Games that I bought as a 5-year-old, trained him up and took two medals here — it’s incredible to achieve that.”
In the individual rankings, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour was fouth on Bohemian (87.507) and the USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery finished fifth on Sanceo (84.300), ahead of Edward Gal on Total Us with 84.157.
Danish rider Carina Cassoe Kruth was next in the rankings on Heiline’s Danciera with 83.329, ahead of Britain’s Carl Hester with En Vogue on 81.818.