Dressed to thrill: Charlotte Dujardin begins her quest for the perfect round

Britain’s big gold medal hope in dressage has helped modernise an elitist sport, bringing an athlete’s intensity to the sometimes inaccessible discipline

Rake the sandpit. Plump the floral dressings. Fire up the dinner-jazz instrumental Elton John and Kiki Dee soundtrack. It is time to bring on the dancing horses. On a gloomy, sullen day in Rio’s military suburbs the Olympic dressage pranced into gear with little in the way of fanfare, something short of a stampede in the stands but with at least one irresistible sporting story lurking at its heart.

Charlotte Dujardin, dressage’s superstar, did not get to ride on day one. Great Britain’s gold medal champ will instead go on Thursday, having been placed 52nd on the starting roster and therefore given a pass on Rio’s first real dog of a day, the rain clinging at the edges all afternoon.

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