From Rio to Gio! Charlotte Dujardin targets fourth Olympic gold medal in the dressage alongside new horse who is ‘coping’ with Tokyo surroundings well ahead of Saturday ride
Charlotte Dujardin is one of Team GB’s outstanding gold medal hopes, a dressage star whose stunning display on Valegro in Rio five years ago earned the sport’s third highest score of all time. On Saturday, she takes a step into the unknown.
Valegro, the so-called ‘dancing horse’ with which she raised the bar for the sport, has retired. It is Gio, a 10-year-old gelding, she will ride here.
There were hints of what might lie ahead when they posted a notable victory at the Hagen show in Germany last year but the tournament awaits signs of what the new partnership will actually bring.
Charlotte Dujardin is hoping to repeat her recent Olympic success with new horse Gio (left)
Dujardin picked up gold in Rio five years ago on old horse Valegro, who has since retired
There is always an element of secrecy within this sport. When Dujardin won individual gold in Rio, she and Valegro performed a routine seen only once in public before.
But only when Dujardin, who wears a helmet rather than a top hat when competing after fracturing her skull in 2009, and her horse step into Tokyo’s Equestrian Park on Saturday will she really know if he can find the competitive level of a predecessor many feel was inimitable.
‘He is only 10, so he has done very little — probably six, or seven grands prix, at the most,’ said Dujardin.
Dujardin (right) claims Gio (left) is coping well with the Tokyo surroundings ahead of Saturday
‘But he seems to be coping with it all very well. He is a trier and won’t go out there not to try.’
Success in the team event, which she begins today alongside six-time Olympian Carl Hester and Games debutant Charlotte Fry, could offer Dujardin, 36, her best hope of a fourth Olympic gold.
She would become only the second female British athlete to achieve that feat after Laura Kenny.
She would become only the second female British athlete to achieve four Olympic golds after Laura Kenny (above)