Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro win gold with an extraordinary performance

By Charles Taylor on |

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Charlotte Dujardin wins individual gold medal in dressage at the Rio Olympics
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Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro delivered one of their greatest performances to be crowned Olympic individual dressage champions for a second successive Games.

Their freestyle score of 93.875% secured gold in Olympic record-style. The only two better scores in the history of dressage were recorded by the same combination.

German powerhouses Isabell Werth and Kristine Bröring-Sprehe were second and third, respectively, but they were way off a scorching pace set in sweltering Deodoro.

With Valegro now likely to be retired, it was a day to savour the greatest partnership the sport has ever seen.

Dujardin now has three Olympic gold medals — putting her level with cyclist Laura Trott as Britain’s most decorated female Olympian — and also moves her alongside eventer Richard Meade as British equestrian’s greatest gold medal-winning equestrian athletes.

Dujardin said: “It was truly magical. It was the best feeling ever. You couldn’t have asked him for any more.

“Dreams come true. Going to London, I didn’t have any expectations for the individual competition. I just went out there, did my thing and it happened.

“Coming here, I had to defend that title, I had expectations, I had the pressure and I did feel it a little bit for the first time ever.

“I also knew it could be one of the last times with Valegro. I know I am not going to do another Olympics with him.

“But as soon as I got into the arena, Valegro gave me this most amazing feeling and it put a smile on my face. I knew I was fine.

“That is what that horse can do. He can give you confidence like I can’t tell you. He’s like a rock. He gives you that hug.

“If you think how many tests that horse has done in his lifetime, and how many times he has ever made a mistake. His consistency throughout his career has been absolutely unbelievable.

“I owe it to him to finish at the top, and I’ve done it. I am going to make sure it happens again (on another horse), but he is a once in a lifetime horse.

“It’s another huge challenge to try to recreate and do it all again, but there will never be another Valegro, and I don’t want anyone ever to compare a horse that I ride to Valegro, because there is never going to be another him.”

Valegro is co-owned by Dujardin’s Great Britain team-mate Carl Hester, Roly Luard and Ann Barrott, and Hester paid tribute to the 14-year-old gelding, although he was non-committal about future plans for the horse.

Hester, who finished seventh in Rio, said: “Consistency is hard with a horse, but he has been at the top for six years without hardly a blip on its record, which is phenomenal.

“You always imagine these top horses to be difficult characters, but he gets ridden out by an 80-year-old at home, kids can get on him in the stables, Charlotte can ride him around the Olympics.

“It’s his work ethic — and a 10-year partnership he has with Charlotte.”

Top image: Charlotte Dujardin wins the individual gold in dressage ahead of Isabell Werth and Kristina Bröring-Sprehe by Arnd Bronkhorst, courtesy of the FEI

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