Friday 16th of April 2021
Features

RIO FOCUS: Dressage

With the Rio Olympics only days away Kitty Trice discusses the Dressage competition. Following on from their first ever Olympic medals at London 2012, the British team, headed by Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, faces fierce competition from established nations such as Germany, Holland and the up and coming USA.

Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro GBR ©Kit Houghton

Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro GBR © Kit Houghton

Carl Hester GBR & Nip Tuck  Olympia 2015 © Jon Stroud

Carl Hester GBR & Nip Tuck Olympia 2015
© Jon Stroud

Ones to watch:

Great Britain:

The reigning Olympic champions, who have won team medals every year since the 2009 Windsor European Championships, will once again be headed by Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester on Valegro and Nip Tuck respectively.

Charlotte and Valegro need little introduction having won Olympic, European and World gold, alongside breaking the world records in all three grand prix tests. They have only been out once this season, in order to keep the now 14-year-old son of Negro fresh, which has paid dividends with wins in the Grand Prix and freestyle at Hartpury. The duo are undoubted favourites for individual honours if they uphold their form.

Carl, affectionately known as “Grandad” by Charlotte, will be competing at his fifth Olympics with the ever-improving Nip Tuck, and they recently delivered a personal best when winning the Grand Prix Special at Hartpury with 79.216%.

Another combination to be breaking personal records is Fiona Bigwood and the Gribaldi mare Orthilia. They scored 79.196% at Saumur and continue to progress with each outing. Orthilia coped well with the electric atmosphere at the Aachen Europeans last year and Fiona has produced this promising mare in mind for these Games.

Spencer Wilton will also make his Olympic debut and will ride the 13-year-old Supa Nova II – known as Neville at home. The former Carl Hester ride produced two plus 73% wins in March at Lier and have been consistently scoring over 70% in 2016.

Germany:

The German team will be looking to go one place higher after their silver medal in London behind Great Britain. Headed by the mighty Isabell Werth, a former Olympic champion with Gigolo, the reigning world champions have been in formidable form this season and particularly when winning the Nations Cup at Aachen.

Kristina Broring-Sprehe, who narrowly missed out on freestyle gold at last year’s Europeans, has formed a brilliant partnership with the 15-year-old stallion Desperados FRH and won the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special tests at Dortmund and Hagen this season with plus 80% scores.  Members of the silver medal winning team at London 2012, the duo will be keen to add Olympic gold to their considerable medal haul.

Dorothee Schneider, another member of the German team at London 2012, will be riding Showtime FRH. Despite the 10-year-old gelding’s relative lack of experience, he has produced consistent, and ever improving, tests in the 70s since his Grand Prix debut last year.

 

 

Team Germany, Dorothee Schneider, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, Isabell Werth, Klaus Röser, Sönke Rothenberger Lambertz Nationenpreis CHIO Aachen 2016 © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans

Team Germany, Dorothee Schneider, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, Isabell Werth, Klaus Röser, Sönke Rothenberger
Lambertz Nationenpreis
CHIO Aachen 2016
© Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans

Adelinde Cornelissen riding Jerich Parzival NED ©Kit Houghton

Adelinde Cornelissen riding Jerich Parzival NED ©Kit Houghton

Edward Gal and Glock's Voice pirouetted before winning bronze in the dressage Mandatory © FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst / Pool Pic Livepic

Edward Gal and Glock’s Voice pirouetted before winning bronze in the dressage © FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst / Pool Pic
Livepic

Diederik van Silfhout & Arlando N.O.P. © Arnd Bronkhorst

Diederik van Silfhout & Arlando N.O.P.
© Arnd Bronkhorst

Sonke Rothenberger, who is the youngest member of the team at the age of 21, will make his senior championship debut on the equally youthful Cosmo 59.  The pair have been very impressive since their Grand Prix debut last September, having finished in the top two on all starts up to Hagen in April.  The former young rider European champion clearly thrives under pressure and will make an exciting addition to Germany’s team.

Netherlands:

The reigning European Champions have selected an experienced team for Rio with the London 2012 individual silver medallists Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival heading the team.

The now 19-year-old has been a fantastic servant for Adelinde, winning European and world gold medals alongside her Olympic silver and bronze. Formerly seen by many as unrideable, Parzival always rises to the occasion but the worry is whether the gelding is slightly past his best. However, the duo always perform a beautifully choreographed freestyle to music.

Hans Peter Minderhoud, who won individual bronze medal in the Grand Prix Special at the Europeans last year, is selected to ride the exciting stallion Johnson. The 14-year-old has been reaching the high 70s in the Grand Prix test and it is surely a matter of time before they reach the elite club to score over 80%. 

Edward Gal, the former world champion with the spectacular Totilas, will ride Voice at his second Olympics, and not his expected mount Undercover. The Dutch maestro, who has a talent for instilling confidence in the most tense and difficult horses, has been on flying form of late.

Former Junior European gold medallist Diederik Van Silfhout makes his Olympic debut with the 11-year-old stallion Arlando N.O.P. Having finished third in the Grand Prix and Special tests at Rotterdam with plus 76% scores, the partnership have gone on to score 78.36% and 79.475% at the National Championships and be crowned Dutch National Champions.

Vilhelmson Silfven Tinne, (SWE) & Don Auriello © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans

Vilhelmson Silfven Tinne (SWE) & Don Auriello
© Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans

Sweden

Patrik Kittel will head the Swedish team with the promising Deja, who recently finished a good ninth and fourth in the Grand Prix and Freestyle in Rotterdam.  The partnership retired at last year’s Aachen Europeans after the 12-year-old mare got her tongue over the bit but has shown promising form this season ahead of Rio.

Another Olympic partnership, Tinne Vilhelmson and Don Auriello, have been selected for their second Olympics after winning the Freestyle at Rotterdam with 79.750%. At the age of 14, Don Auriello has been consistent at the highest level, having been placed at numerous Olympic, world and European championships.

Senior championship debutants Juliette Ramel and Therese Nilshagen take the other two places on the team and have impressed chef d’equipe Bo Jena with their continued improvement this season.

 The “Dark horses?”

USA:

Traditionally the USA has focused more on eventing and show jumping but with an exciting young team selected, medals are more than a pipe dream.

The lynchpin of the team, Steffen Peters, has finished agonisingly close to winning an individual medal when fourth in Beijing with Ravel but has a top class partner in Legolas 92. The 14-year-old gelding has a fantastic record and has only finished once outside of the top ten in his international career – when he was eliminated for blood in the mouth at the 2015 World Cup final.

Laura Graves with Verdades © FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Laura Graves with Verdades © FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

At the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of experience, Laura Graves has rapidly reached the top level with a string of high profile successes. Riding 14-year-old Verdades, the pair won individual silver and team gold at the Pan American Games last year. They also proved they can mix with the best when finishing fifth in the freestyle at the 2014 WEG.

California’s Kasey Perry-Glass is another to make her Olympic debut after consistent performances in the Nations Cup at Rotterdam, Wellington and Compiegne. Riding the 13-year-old Dublet they have performed creditably on the European stage.

Last, but by no means least, Allison Brook and Rosevelt make up the final place of the team, having finished an excellent third in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at Rotterdam in front of riders like Andelinde Cornelissen and Michael Eilberg.

The home team:

Brazil has traditionally been more competitive in show jumping and eventing but they do have a number of riders to choose from in the dressage. They are unlikely to trouble the leading nations but the home crowd will enjoy cheering on their heroes. 

Predictions:

Team medals:

·      Gold – Great Britain

·      Silver – Germany

·      Bronze – Netherlands

Individual medals:

·      GoldCharlotte Dujardin and Valegro (GBR)

·      SilverKristina Broring-Sprehe  and Desperados FRH (GER)

·      BronzeHans Peter Minderhoud and Johnson (NED)

Timetable:

–       8 August – first horse inspection

–       10 August – team grand prix day one

–       11 August – team grand prix day two

–       12 August – grand prix special and presentation of team medals

–       15 August – grand prix freestyle and presentation of individual medals

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