The British rider came close to breaking the world record in her gold-winning performance. Dujardin led with the top Freestyle score of 93.857 out of 100, below her own 2014 record of 94.30. Isabell Werth claimed silver after helping Germany win the team dressage title on Friday. Fellow German Kristina Broring-Sprehe took bronze.
Dujardin, 31, won individual and team gold four years ago in London and has broken numerous dressage records. A former groom who worked her way up in an elite sport, she counts Queen Elizabeth II among her fans.
“It is absolutely incredible,” she said of her gold medal. “I can't believe it. I am so overwhelmed. If I didn't win I knew I could not have done better. Valegro definitely could not do any more.”
Dujardin’s choice of freestyle music was inspired by Brazil and its famous samba. She said: “It is a new freestyle. I rode it only the second time. It was just magical. I got really emotional down the last centre line. He always goes in to give me his very best. It felt absolutely effortless.”
The top 18 individual riders started with a clean slate to ride for individual medals in the freestyle competition, a routine of choreographed moves to music that is essentially the equine version of a gymnastics floor routine.
American Laura Graves, a former hair stylist riding a horse she trained herself, came in fourth, meaning the top four dressage scores were claimed by women in an Olympic event in which they compete against men. Spain’s Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez finished fifth as the highest-placed man.