Great Britain will go for gold on the final day of the Olympic dressage team competition in Rio.
The British quartet of Charlotte Dujardin (Valegro), Carl Hester (Nip Tuck), Fiona Bigwood (Orthilia) and Spencer Wilton (Super Nova II) hold second spot behind Germany going into the grand prix special phase, with the USA third, Holland fourth, Sweden fifth and Denmark sixth.
Dujardin and Valegro were brilliant, with their grand prix score of 85.071% proving a class apart from the field.
“I think, for me, going in there was about going in and enjoying it,” said Dujardin. “That was the biggest thing.
“I watched a lot of people yesterday going in there looking nervous, and I thought, for me, I’ve got to go in there and it’s my absolute passion, I’ve got the horse of my life, I’ve got a top trainer and huge support team around me, so go out there and enjoy it.
“Now we’ve all been in the arena once, I think Friday will be better.
“Fiona did a fantastic job yesterday, Spencer did a really good job at his first Olympic Games and Carl did a great job. He has not only had to ride himself, but he’s been training Spencer, Fiona and me.
“He has been the rock for everyone. I honestly don’t know how he’s done it, but he’s done it for the whole team and I know for a fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.
“London was my first Olympics. It was my dream to get there, and I literally had the time of my life.
“Coming here, I want to do the same, I don’t want to come away with any regrets, I want to go in there and enjoy it and have the time of my life and not think ‘I wish I’d done that,’ and so far I’ve done everything I want to do.”
Hester’s horse, Nip Tuck, spooked during their test, but they quickly regrouped to produce a score of 75.529%.
Hester said: “By the time he got to the canter, he got really good and I could get some marks back from the zig-zags and the pirouettes.
“I am happy with my score. I couldn’t expect more.
“He is big — probably the biggest horse here — but he has the heart of a mouse. It was probably something ridiculous that spooked him, like a flower in a pot. Maybe he needs glasses.
“I wanted more, but I used to get that score when he was going mistake-free, so I know certain things have got better.
“The canter was so lovely to ride, and I finished my test happy, thinking if I start tomorrow like I finished then I can really go for it because he’s been so rideable all week.”
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at the Olympic Games in Rio, by Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans, courtesy of the FEI