By Louise Parkes
Like re-booting to re-establish a connection, Germany clinched team Dressage gold in considerable style at the Olympic Equestrian Park in Deodoro today. Germany has now won eight of the last nine Olympic team Dressage contests – with only Great Britain spoiling the party on home soil in 2012 – and today’s result brings the Germans overall tally to 13 sets of Olympic team golds.
Already looking like the ones to beat after topping yesterday’s Grand Prix, they stamped their authority all over today’s deciding Grand Prix Special with a team total of 81.936. Great Britain had to settle for silver with 78.595 while Team USA, posting 76.667, fended off the Netherlands for bronze. It was a tough day for the Dutch who lost out on a podium placing by a margin of just 1.15 percentage points. And with last-to-go German team member, Isabell Werth (47), posting the highest score of the day – 83.711 – with the fabulous mare Weihegold and pinning Britain’s 2012 double-champions Charlotte Dujardin (31) and Valegro into second place in the individual standings, the stage is set for a fascinating battle for the individual title in Monday’s Freestyle.
This was Werth’s sixth Olympic gold medal, her first two collected in Barcelona (ESP) in 1992 where she claimed team gold and individual silver. And she has now matched the record set by the Netherlands’ Anky van Grunsven with nine Olympic medals in total. If she picks up another on Monday she will hold a whole new record.
Sönke Rothenberger’s pathfinding ride for Germany with Cosmo was only good enough for 10th place at the end of a day on which many riders exceeded even their own expectations. The judges were unrelenting however in punishing mistakes and, already reduced to a team of three, Dutch chances of overtaking the Americans slipped away when Edward Gal and Voice posted 73.655. “I wanted to take some risks, but there were too many mistakes” he admitted afterwards. Going in the latter stages of competition the Americans knew what they had to do, but it came down to the final rider to ensure the bronze, and Laura Graves and Verdades really nailed it with a personal-best score of 80.644.
In silver medal spot as the day began, the British felt the pressure, but Carl Hester wasn’t prepared to take any monkey-business from his naughty gelding, Nip Tuck, who lost marks with silly spooking in yesterday’s test. “There was no way he was going to do that again today!” he said today after posting 76.485. And even though Dujardin’s performance wasn’t quite what she wanted due to a mistake in the first half-pass which cost her dearly, she still earned a massive 82.983.
But Dorothee Schneider and Showtime had already scored 82.619, and world number one Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados were only a little short of that with 81.401, so when Werth threw down 83.711 after a magical and confident test with the lovely mare Weihegold the German win was in the bag. Werth knew she had produced something extra-special, “today’s performance was near the optimum, I don’t think it will be easy to repeat it – this was a day of days!”, she said.