Britain takes gold in individual dressage, old-timers say farewell

LONDON: Charlotte Dujardin of Britain won the London Games individual equestrian dressage gold medal Thursday on the horse Valegro, scoring 90.089 percent in the deciding grand prix musical freestyle which featured Olympic theme music and chimes from Big Ben.

Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands, riding Parzival, won silver, while Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris took the bronze. World Cup champion Cornelissen scored 88.196 and Bechtolsheimer had 84.339.

Cornelissen picked music from “Nutcracker Suite” and Bechtolsheimer music from “The Lion King” to highlight their horses’ best athletic attributes.

Britain also won team gold in dressage earlier this week, beating Germany and the Netherlands. The three medals, including two golds, were the first Olympic dressage medals ever won by Britain.

“Wait for me,” Dujardin called to Valegro as she dismounted after the medal ceremony and he started for the barn without her. She planted a kiss on his nose and then went back to wave her medal to the crowd with a tear-streaked face and huge grin.

Dujardin, 27, started competing internationally only last year but quickly rose to prominence in a sport where years of competitive experience usually make the difference on the medals podium.

Earlier Dutch rider Anky van Grunsven on Salinero, winners of gold in the two previous Olympics, thrilled the crowd with the horse’s last Olympic appearance scoring 82.00 to finish seventh, a great score for an older horse.

“I’m proud of him that he’s 18 years old and showed that he still belonged here,” said van Grunsven.

American rider Steffen Peters did not have as successful a swan song for his last competitive ride on Ravel. The former World Cup winners made a series of small mistakes to score 77.286 and finish 17th, although they had qualified in seventh place going into the final. “He was distracted and kept looking around ... This was a glitch today. I’ll remember him instead for his wonderful career,” Peters said.

Peters was the sole U.S. rider to move into the individual competition after the team event earlier in the week.

During the team competition, Ann Romney, wife of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, flew to London to watch the horse she co-owns compete here. Rafalca, ridden by Jan Ebeling, finished 28th out of the 50 horses entered.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 10, 2012, on page 14.




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