Tag Archives: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Germans Establish Authority ahead of Dressage Team Medals Finale

Charlotte Dujardin and Gio. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Team Germany continued to build up a head of steam when moving to the top of the Dressage Grand Prix leaderboard at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Two great rides, from Dorothee Schneider with Showtime and the living legend that is Isabell Werth with Bella Rose, secured pole position at the end of the competition which decided the eight best nations that will go through to Tuesday’s medal-decider, the Grand Prix Special in which all teams start from scratch.

Joining the defending champions will be Great Britain, who finished second, followed by Denmark, USA, Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain.

Meanwhile, the 18 individuals that have made the cut to Wednesday’s Individual medal decider are also confirmed. The two best from each of the six qualifying groups – Charlotte Fry and Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), Therese Nilshagen and Juliette Ramel (SWE), Cathrine Dufour and Carina Cassoe Kruth (DEN), Edward Gal (NED), Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, Dorothee Schneider and Isabell Werth (GER), Sabine Schut-Kery and Adrienne Lyle (USA) – are through. Also qualified are the six next-best individuals, Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN), Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (ESP), Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED), Carl Hester (GBR), Rodrigo Torees (POR), and Steffen Peters (USA).

Top two spots

Denmark’s Cassoe Kruth and America’s Lyle claimed the top two spots in Group D when the action resumed, and then Germany’s Schneider headed up Group E after a lovely test. Schneider said her horse was “a little bit tense but it’s normal for him on first day.” She’s had a late return to top competition for a range of reasons.

“Showtime competed at the European Championships in 2019 and then he was at home, because I wanted to keep him safe for the Olympic Games in 2020, and then there were no Games! I wanted to start early in 2021 but then I had an accident in April. But he’s an experienced horse and once he gets out to compete three or four times, he’s fine,” she said of the gelding who carried her to team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and who she has ridden since he was a three-year-old.

A fall when a horse she was competing dropped dead during a prizegiving ceremony left her with a broken collarbone, “but it’s all good now!” she said. “It took a little time to come back and it wasn’t so easy mentally, but we are back now and I’m happy again,” she explained.

Solidity

Compatriot Werth headed up the final group of 10 horse-and-athlete combinations and, last to go, underpinned the solidity of the German challenge. With her beloved Bella Rose who scored 82.500 she pinned Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and the charming little chestnut gelding Gio into second place in that group. However, both of these ladies look to have a lot more in store for the coming days. And Dujardin, whose reign of supremacy with the great Valegro changed a lot about the sport of Dressage in recent years, is clearly super-excited about her latest rising star. You could feel that rivalry between her and the evergreen queen, Werth, filling the air once again.

Talking about Gio, Dujardin said, “I was so happy; he’s a very green inexperienced horse, so it was a bit of the unknown what to expect. Hagen (Germany in April this year) is the biggest show he’s done and he delivered there. I couldn’t ask for any more today; he went in there and he tried his heart out. He’s just unbelievable; he keeps giving. I felt emotional on the last centreline because when you have a ride like that, win or lose, that’s what it’s all about for me.

“He’s like a little powerhouse: he’s small but definitely mighty;for where he is at his training, I know he can give even more and I’m so happy with him,” she said.

Rivalry

Werth clearly enjoys the renewed rivalry with her British counterpart because it feeds her competitive edge. “It’s always very important that you have strong field of competitors because then you push each other to top performances and that’s the spirit of competition,” she pointed out.

She described the 17-year-old Bella Rose as “my dream horse and when she’s in top shape she is the best – her way of moving, her character, her charisma, her piaffe/passage down the centreline – of course Weihe (her other mare Weihegold) is super and the younger ones too, but with Bella you have the feeling there is always something more possible!”

Talking about these “Games like no other” in Tokyo, the multiple Olympic champion said the lack of an audience could be influential. “Mostly you will see it in the medal decisions, especially in the Freestyle. There will be music but no crowd to carry the horses and riders – it makes a big difference – but on the other hand we are so happy that we can be here, can compete that we have an Olympic Games. We are in a discipline that is really depending on Games, because then we are more in the focus of the media and the world and it gives the younger riders at home the motivation and support, so it’s a big package we have, and we are very thankful to be here.”

Facts and Figures:

If Isabell Werth wins double-gold she will become the most decorated female German Olympic athlete of all times.

The IOC and FEI have given special permission to Irish athletes across all equestrian disciplines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to wear a yellow ribbon in memory of young rising star, Tiggy Hancock, who tragically suffered a fatal fall last month. Dressage rider Heike Holstein was the first to compete with hers. She said, “We are very proud to wear it, and grateful to the IOC and FEI for allowing us to do it.”

The judges awarded the maximum score of 10 on 14 occasions during the second half of the Grand Prix, which is the Team and Individual qualifying competition, and 13 of them were earned by Isabelle Werth’s Bella Rose (GER) – 7 for piaffe, 5 for passage/piaffe transitions, and one for halt. A single 10 was awarded to Charlotte Dujardin’s Gio (GBR) for two-tempi changes.

Quotes:

Christian Schumach (AUT) who scored 70.900 with Te Quiero SF: “I’m super happy with my horse and super happy with my riding. Overall, there was one mistake in the twos and that was clearly my mistake. I was enjoying the surroundings and the Olympic experience too much so it wasn’t his fault; he did a super job! he’s really young (10 years old) and this was only his seventh Grand Prix.”

Heike Holstein (IRL): “It’s special when you breed a foal that you know from when it is running around in your fields as a baby, breaking it, competing it, and taking it all the way to the Olympic Games!”

Steffen Peters (USA), talking about his ride on Suppenkasper: “He’s a hot horse so to do a relaxed clean test was a very good start. This was not the test to go crazy in; we’ll do that in the Special! It’s been four years of a complete love affair with him; he’s such a big, kind teddy bear. He’s 18.2 hands tall but there’s not a mean bone in his body; he always tries and I’m one of the fortunate riders who gets to ride him!”

He complimented the judges on the scores they gave his team-mate Sabine Schut-Kery, whose pathfinding ride got the US off to a great start.

“Sabine is a cool, calm competitor with a helluva horse. Not too many people know her that well, but I appreciate that some of the judges who had never seen her before gave her a very good score.”

Results

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Sensational Start to Race for Olympic Dressage Titles

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

It may have been a long time coming, but the opening day of Equestrian Dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games more than lived up to expectations. Emotions ran high and so did the scores as superb individual performances saw The Netherlands take the early lead in the battle for the Team title, while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl set a personal-best when posting the biggest mark of the evening with TSF Dalera.

Groups

With the competition divided into six groups in total, and three of those groups taking their turn, it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry and Everdale who set the early target score when posting 77.096 to top Group A. But only two athletes earned marks over 80%, and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour was the first of these when putting 81.056 on the board with Bohemian to take complete command of Group B.

“It was important for me to give him a really great feeling in the ring today,” Dufour said. “I didn’t want to push too much because I wanted him to be comfortable in there. And even though there’s no audience there’s a vibe in the arena and they can feel it!”

Much of her previous success has been achieved with the diminutive Cassidy, who carried her through Junior and Young Rider level to triple-bronze at the Senior European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE) in 2017 and bronze again in the Grand Prix Special at the Europeans in Rotterdam (NED) in 2019. She admitted she felt a bit guilty about leaving the 18-year-old gelding at home and bringing the 11-year-old Bohemian to Tokyo instead.

“Cassidy has been my partner in crime for 11 years, so I felt a little bit like I was cheating on him!” But she feels Bohemian is “one of the best horses in the world! He doesn’t have any weaknesses.”

Firm basis

Meanwhile, Edward Gal’s score of 78.649 left him second in Group B and gave The Netherlands a firm basis on which to build their team challenge. His black stallion, Total US, is only nine years old, and a son of the great Totilas who, with Gal onboard, set the world of Dressage on fire a decade ago.

“You feel so much comparison, the same feeling when you give your leg, the same reaction. Totilas was more confident at his age – he (Total US) is a bit shy but I’ve done some more competitions with him now and I feel him getting more confident,” said the Dutchman who was sporting an eye-catching new tailcoat.

Previously Dressage riders were only permitted to dress in modest colours, but following a change to those rules the Dutch Dressage team have joined their Jumping counterparts in wearing the brightest of bright orange jackets so they stand out in every sense.

Show-stopper

A show-stopper in the final group of riders was America’s Sabine Schut-Kery who steered the 15-year-old stallion Sanceo to a superb mark of 78.416. The German-born rider who lives in California’s Napa Valley produced a test filled with lightness and energy. This is a lady with a fascinating background, as she began her equestrian career performing in exhibitions across Europe with Friesian and Andalusian horses.

She’s had Sanceo since he was three years old, “and it’s so special to have him now at the pinnacle of the Olympics representing my country!” she said. “In my past I’ve done a lot of entertainment with horses. The passion for Dressage was always there so we taught them to lie down, bow, or sit or rear on command. But with that we were always very passionate about correct Dressage and training the horse correctly and making it look beautiful,” said the lady who has performed with her exhibition horses at top venues including Aachen and Stuttgart in Germany.

Second-last into the arena, Hans-Peter Minderhoud bolstered the Dutch position with a score of 76.817 with Dream Boy, giving his country the lead going into the second half of the Grand Prix ahead of Denmark in second and Great Britain in third. But some shuffling of positions can well be expected by the end of the second day.

Thrilling test

And that was made clear by the thrilling test produced by von Bredow-Werndl for the biggest score of the evening, despite a big spook from Dalera before entering the ring following a rain shower.

“She wasn’t scared; she was just excited by the atmosphere. She didn’t expect it because it was so silent every day here!” said the German star after posting a massive 84.379.

Talking about how testing it was for the riders as well as the horses in the conditions at Baji Koen Equestrian Park, she added, “To be honest I’m very fit, but at the centreline where I started the pirouettes I thought ‘Gosh, it’s so exhausting!’ It was so hot in there and the humidity is extreme after the rain. It was tough,” she said.

Quotes:

Brazil’s Joao Victor Marcari Oliva, who is based in Portugal, first rider into the arena with Escorial: “I knew this horse for a long time because he is a famous Lusitano breeding stallion, but I never thought I would be riding him. It’s a pleasure to open the Olympics. How do I cope with the heat here? Portugal is warm; I am Brazilian so it’s fine; it’s like home!”

Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry: “At the end he got a shock that there were people watching; he was so concentrating on my ride! He knew it was a big occasion; he was so concentrated all day; he knew it was coming; he is so intelligent. I’ve been riding him since he was 7 and he’s now 12. I’ve done Young Riders with him and U25 Grand Prix and he’s moved up to Senior Grand Prix in 2019, so we’ve really grown up together and built a really good partnership. He’s fun to ride and I love every day riding him.”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Equestrian Dressage Preview

Celebrating Germany’s 13th Olympic Dressage team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games: (L to R) Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider, Sönke Rothenberger, and Kristina Bröring-Sprehe. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Can Germany make it a fabulous 14?

Germany has a long and formidable record in Olympic Equestrian Dressage. Since the team competition was first introduced in Amsterdam (NED) in 1928, when the German side pinned Sweden into silver and The Netherlands into bronze, they have won 13 of the 20 Olympic team contests. And it’s looking very much like gold number 14 is just around the corner.

The loss to Great Britain at London in 2012 was the only blip in an otherwise seamless run that began in Los Angeles in 1984 when the great Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich led the victory gallop. Despite all the disruption of the last 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak in mainland Europe, Team Germany arrive at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as defending champions and strong favourites to do it all over again.

Isabell Werth heads the line-up with the mare Bella Rose and holding the World number one slot. And underpinning the sheer strength of the German challenge, she will be joined by World numbers two and four4, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with TSF Dalera BB and Dorothee Schneider with Showtime FRH. With Helen Langehanenberg and her mare Annabelle in reserve, they seem like an unstoppable force.

However, the three-per team format introduced for this year’s Games could prove highly influential. One off day for just one team member and the story could be very different indeed, because every ride will be critical.

Dynamic duo

At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Great Britain claimed silver and The Netherlands took team bronze and this time around the British send the dynamic duo of Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester once again, but both on relatively unexposed horses.

Dujardin’s decision to take the 10-year-old Gio instead of her considerably more experienced 12-year-old mare Mount St John Freestyle, who was in great form at Hagen (GER) in April and who swept all before her at the home international at Wellington (GBR) in May, came as a surprise. But the athlete, whose record-breaking partnership with the now-retired Valegro has helped popularise this sport like few before her, is backed up by the evergreen Hester and Charlotte Fry with Everdale, and she’s always going to be highly competitive.

Edward Gal with Total US and Hans Peter Minderhoud with Dream Boy headline the Dutch team, Patrik Kittel (Well Done de la Roche) leads the Swedish contingent, and Steffen Peters (Suppenkasper) will be a strong anchor for Team USA. Meanwhile, Team Belgium will be making a little bit of Olympic history as they make their first appearance since 1928.

When it comes to the individual honours all eyes will be on Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and her fabulous horse Bohemian. The pair posted a back-to-back double of wins at the first leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020/2021 series on home ground in Aarhus (DEN), pinning Germany’s Werth and von Bredow-Werndl into second and third.

But when the Covid cloud broke long enough for another leg to take place in Salzburg (AUT) in January, von Bredow-Werndl showed a whole new level of performance with her 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ gold-medal partner TSF Dalera BB, who has gone from strength to strength ever since. Now this pair looks a real threat to all the rest in the battle for individual Olympic glory.

Less obvious

However, at Olympic Games, the show-stealers are often the less obvious. Australia’s Mary Hanna, whose horse Calanta was the very first to arrive into the stables at Baji Koen Equestrian Park in Tokyo earlier this week, is a case in point. Because equestrian fans all around the world are already putting their hearts behind this mother of two and grandmother of four who, at the age of 66, is tackling her sixth Olympics.

Apart from the Beijing Games in 2008, she has been a member of every Australian Olympic Dressage team since 1996, and that’s quite some record. She’s as proud as ever to be flying her country’s flag alongside Kelly Layne riding Samhitas and Simone Pearce with Destano.

The last time Olympic Games were staged in Tokyo in 1964, Baji Koen was the venue for Dressage, which was a very different sport back then.

In the Grand Prix, the scores were announced after each ride and after the ride-off – which was filmed and then mulled over by judges Frantisek Jandl, Gustaf Nyblaeus, and Georges Margot; the public, the teams, and the media had to wait for two hours before the final results were announced. It should be a bit quicker this time around!

Swiss supremo Henri Chammartin with Woerman was eventually deemed the Individual champion, and the team title went to Germany’s Harry Boldt with Remus, Josef Neckermann with Antoinette, and Reiner Klimke with Dux.

How it will play out….

The FEI Grand Prix test, in which all athletes must participate, will take place on 24 and 25 July and is a qualifier for both the team and individual competitions. The qualification ranking will be decided by the results of all three team members.

Athletes compete in six groups, with three groups competing on each day. The composition of the groups is based on the FEI World Ranking list position of the athlete/horse combination on the date of definite entries (5 July 2021).

The top eight teams in the Grand Prix (and those tied for eighth place) will qualify for the FEI Grand Prix Special on 27 July.

During the period between the Team Qualifier (Grand Prix) and up to two hours before the start of the Team Final (Grand Prix Special), the Chef d’Equipe may substitute an athlete/horse combination. However, the substitute combination will not be entitled to compete in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle.

The FEI Grand Prix Freestyle test is the Individual Final Competition which is open to 18 combinations qualified from the FEI Grand Prix. The qualified athletes will be the top two combinations from each of the six groups and the combinations with the six next highest scores.

The Dressage Tests are the FEI Grand Prix, the FEI Grand Prix Special, and the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

It’s All Go for Tokyo

Photo: Baji Koen Equestrian Park.

Before the action even begins, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are already unforgettable. Running a year later than scheduled and with multiple challenges along the way, the best of the best are now putting in their final preparations ahead of the Opening Ceremony on 23 July 2021.

It has been a difficult lead-in period, with so many interruptions due to the pandemic that has affected the entire world and the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) impacting Mainland Europe, then this week’s news that there will be no spectators at any of the venues in order to ensure safe and secure Games. But the statistics for equestrian sport are more impressive than ever, with a record number of countries fielding teams and individuals in the three disciplines of Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping.

The Tokyo 2020 sport entries (FEI Definite Entries) reveal that the flags of 50 nations will fly high during two weeks of spectacular sport. A total of 200 athlete-and-horse combinations are listed, along with an additional 48 Alternate/Reserves.

Formats

The new three-member format has changed the dynamic of the team competitions. Not only is the pressure more intense as each individual performance will count for so much, but it has also opened the door for many more countries to take part.

At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a total of 27 nations lined out in Jumping, with 15 of those sending teams, while this time 20 teams and individuals from a further 15 countries will take part to boost the number of National Olympic Committees (NOC) represented in Tokyo to 35. In Eventing the number of participating countries has increased from 24 to 29, with 15 teams compared to 13 in Rio, and in Dressage the numbers jump from 25 to 30 nations and from 11 teams to 15.

Centred

The equestrian events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be principally centred at Baji Koen Equestrian Park in Setagaya. This is a public park owned by the Japan Racing Association, which was also the venue for Dressage at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.

Back then Eventing was staged in Karuizawa and Jumping took place at the National Olympic Stadium. For the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the fully refurbished Baji Koen will host Dressage, Jumping, and two of the three phases of Eventing.

Course designer, Derek di Grazia (USA), has spent the last five years creating the Eventing Cross Country course on what was previously a landfill site at the waterfront at Sea Forest with a stunning backdrop of Tokyo Bay and the city. Equestrian shares the venue, which will become a public park after the Games, with Olympic rowing and canoeing.

The Games of the XXXII Olympiad promise to be like nothing that has gone before and equestrian sport is already breaking records.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46