Germany produced three near-flawless rides to take team dressage gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Tuesday.
The German trio of Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl were in imperious form, and took a sizeable lead in the first round courtesy of a breath-taking ride by Werth.
And they sustaining their gap over challengers GB and the USA throughout, with their advantage almost insurmountable going into the final round of rides.
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Germany had gone into the tournament as favourites to defend their title from 2016, and showed all of the expected quality at Equestrian Park, with a sumptuous ride by Von Bredow-Werndl securing gold.
Team GB had looked well-placed after two rounds to complete their second-place effort from five years ago, with Carl Hester, Charlotte Fry and Charlotte Dujardin all putting in strong rides.
But a phenomenal final ride by America’s Sabine Schut-Kery put Britain under enormous pressure. And one small error by Dujardin and her horse Gio saw the Brits slip into third.
The performances of the Team GB triumvirate will give the British equestrian team hope of individual honours later in the Games, but Dujardin will no longer be favourite to defend her title on new Olympic steed Gio.
The 36-year-old Dujardin won gold in the team and individual events riding Valegro at London 2012 and added an individual gold and team silver to her haul on the same horse in Rio.
But the double world and Olympic champion was put into competitive retirement later in 2016, and even Dujardin’s world-class relationship with her new horse can’t quite match the brilliance of her partnership with Valegro.
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