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Aussies in front after spectacular Olympic Eventing cross-country challenge

Rio 2016

FEI News

RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – DRESSAGE, FREESTYLE

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 15 August 2016

 

Photo Caption:  Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro secured their second successive individual Olympic Dressage title when winning the Freestyle today. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)

 

Free images for editorial use at http://goo.gl/nRrshc Password fei2016

 

 

Dujardin and her horse with a heart of gold do it again: Individual Dressage Final

by Louise Parkes

 

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin (31) and the fabulous 14-year-old gelding, Valegro, were in a class of their own when posting an Olympic Dressage record score of 93.857 in the Grand Prix Freestyle to claim their second successive individual title today. The double-gold medallist at London 2012 is the first British woman to retain an individual Olympic title, and she now matches the British record of three gold medals for a female athlete set by cyclist Laura Trott yesterday.

 

On an afternoon of high emotion in Deodoro Olympic Park it was two members of Friday’s gold-medal-winning German team who took silver and bronze, the multi-medalled Isabell Werth (47) and Weihegold scoring 89.071 to finish ahead of world no. 1 Kristina Broring-Sprehe (29) and Desperados on a mark of 87.142.

 

Emotions

 

Dujardin could hardly contain her emotions after securing the victory. “He couldn’t have done anymore” she said of the much-loved horse who is known at home as Blueberry, “I was thinking this could be the last time” she added before bursting into tears. The British partnership hold all the world records in their sport, and today’s result was just short of the Freestyle record of 94.30 per cent they set at Olympia Horse Show in London (GBR) in 2014.

 

The scores really began to soar as the final six combinations took their turn, and IOC President, Thomas Bach, arrived just in time to see Broring-Sprehe set the new standard before Dujardin and Valegro blew that away when rocketing into the lead by a margin of more than six points. America’s Laura Graves produced the performance of her career with Verdades to finish just off the podium on 85.196, her third personal-best result posted at these Games.

 

Record books

 

Werth already entered the record books when her team gold on Friday gave her the edge over the previously most-medalled German Olympic equestrian, Dr Reiner Klimke. Today’s silver brings her tally to a massive 10 Olympic medals during an extraordinary career but, last to go today, she was realistic in her expectations. “I knew Charlotte had 93 or 94 per cent, and Germany already won team gold, so with silver today I couldn’t ask for more. I really enjoy competing against the best, that’s what makes us all better, and Charlotte and Valegro really deserve this” she said.

 

Dujardin talked about her own expectations. “We set the world record at 94 so I knew it was possible, but to come and do it again here at the Olympics is quite special. Today was magic, in London there was no pressure to take gold but today I was nervous because I felt the expectation to deliver. But trotting around the arena before the start, Blueberry felt so good it just put a smile on my face and I just knew it was going to be ok. I felt he knew what I was thinking in there and he looked after me, he did his very best. I have a partnership, a connection with this horse that nothing is going to break, he has a heart of gold”, she said.

 

Lit up

 

The pair have lit up the sport since coming together in 2011. “To think what he has achieved in the last four or five years, it seems almost impossible”, the British rider said, admitting that retirement is “on the cards” for Valegro now. “We’ll discuss it when we get home, and he definitely won’t be doing another Olympic Games or a big championship. I owe it to him to finish at the top”, she pointed out.

 

As for her own plans, marriage is at last on the horizon. Her partner, Dean Wyatt Golding, proposed to her during the London 2012 Games “and I said yes” she explained today, “bless him, he’s been waiting a long time, we’ve been together nine years but it’s definitely going to happen now!” Somehow it seems very likely that a horse with three Olympic gold medals around his neck could be a prominent member of the wedding party.

 

Result here https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-dressage-individual-grand-prix-freestyle

 

Quotes:

 

Patrick Kittel SWE: “I only heard a couple of days ago that I couldn’t use my Stevie Wonder music. We asked a long time ago about using it for the Olympic Games and we only heard back at the very last minute so this music is an old one and Deja isn’t used to it and I think she felt lost in it, and I did too! I’m happy overall, this is an amazing horse, she needs more experience competing over three days but she’s going to be great!”

 

Carl Hester GBR: “I felt the mark matched my test, sometimes you go in there and think you should have gotten more, but not today. We got five more marks than Friday and he was so much more relaxed. He was so quiet I could just let him walk for the last five minutes before we came in.”

 

Charlotte Dujardin GBR: “I’ve only ridden that floorplan once, at Hartpury and we’ve changed it a few times since. There were things I hadn’t even tried before today and that’s why he is so magical!”

 

Laura Graves USA: “I’m thrilled with this score, I didn’t feel like I had quite as much horse as I had in the last couple of days, it’s obviously very hot, we’ve been here now for a day over two weeks, so it’s been a long time to keep our horses going like this.

 

It was another personal best for me, by three percent or something like that, so that’s three personal bests at the Olympic Games!”

 

 

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Aussies in front after spectacular Olympic Eventing cross-country challenge

Rio 2016

FEI NewsRIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – EVENTING CROSS COUNTRY

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 8 August 2016

 

 

 

 


Aussies in front after spectacular Olympic Eventing cross-country challenge

By Louise Parkes

Australia, Eventing team gold medallists in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, heads both the team and individual standings in Olympic Eventing after a day of cross-country thrills, spills and surprises at the Rio 2016 Olympic Equestrian Venue in Deodoro today, topping the teams on 150.3 and with Christopher Burton in pole position in the individual rankings with Santano II. But their neighbours from New Zealand are stalking them closely going into tomorrow’s final showjumping phase, just 4.5 penalties adrift, with the French in hot pursuit in overnight bronze a further 6.2 off the pace.

Germany, London 2012 team gold medalists and leaders after dressage, dropped to fourth on 172.8, while Britain’s William Fox-Pitt plummeted from pole position on the individual leaderboard to 22nd after a runout at the final element of the Ski Jump at fence 20 on a course that all the riders agreed was an enormous test. The statistics tell the tale of a tough day at the office, with eight of the 13 teams reduced to just three team-members, and USA and Russia no longer in contention after retirements and eliminations.

Only Brazil, France and Great Britain will have full four-member sides as tomorrow’s action begins, provided all goes well in the early-morning horse inspection.

Influential

It was clear from the outset that the 33-fence track would prove hugely influential, and with three of the first eight riders biting the dirt it more than lived up to expectations.

Sam Griffiths got the Australians off to the perfect start however when cruising home with the lovely Irish mare, Paulank Brockagh, with only 6.8 time penalties to add to his dressage score, and when Burton and his super-talented nine-year-old, Santano ll, produced one of just three zero scores on the day then things were looking even better. That was reinforced by another great run from Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio who put just 2.8 time penalties on the board, so even though Shane Rose was eliminated late on the track with CP Qualified they still went out in front at the end of the day.

With New Zealand pathfinder Tim Price out of the picture after a slip-up on the flat, the remaining Kiwis had no choice but to keep it together and they succeeded brilliantly, the legendary Sir Mark Todd (Leonidas ll), Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation) and Tim Price’s wife, Jonelle Price (Faerie Dianimo) each collecting just time faults to leave them on a scoreline of 154.80.

Meanwhile Astier Nicolas (Piaf de B’Neville) set up the French with a fault-free run so they could drop the 50.40 collected by Karim Laghouag (Entebbe) who ran into trouble at the first of the two angled brush fences at 12.  Team-mate Thibaut Valette (Qing du Briot) also faulted at this one but came home with a relatively modest 24.4 penalties to add, while Mathieu Lemoine (Bart L), individually third after dressage, took a careful tour of the track, and the final team tally of 161.00 was good enough for overnight third.

Successive

The German dream of a third successive team title took a hammering despite a brilliant clear from defending team and individual Olympic champion Michael Jung (Sam) when Julia Krajewski (Samourai du Thot) was eliminated, so mistakes from Sandra Auffarth (Opgun Louvo) and Ingrid Klimke (Bob) had to be taken into account to drop the team from first to fourth.

But Jung (40.9 penalties) is stalking individual leader, Burton (37.6), very closely and with less than a single fence advantage the 34-year-old Australian will be under extreme pressure tomorrow. Frenchman Nicolas is just 1.1 penalty points further behind in third while Kiwi, Todd (46.0) just shades America’s Philip Dutton (Mighty Nice) on 46.8 and Boyd Martin (Blackfoot Mystery), 50.9 in fifth and sixth. Burton said his horse is “very inexperienced” so he took some longer options on the course, “but the horse is so fast. I couldn’t believe it….he is a rocket!”

Sensationally, Brazil’s Carlos Parro has rocketed up all the way from 33rd place after dressage to hold equal-seventh spot with New Zealand’s Clarke Johnston (Balmoral Sensation). Riding Summon up the Blood, and on a day when so many of the major stars of the sport failed to find the key to the course set by Frenchman Pierre Michelet, the 37-year-old Brazilian, 236th in the world rankings, will be taking on the very best in the battle for Olympic glory. And his team is lying fifth ahead of The Netherlands in sixth as the new day begins.

Unfolded

As the competition unfolded today, riders quickly learned from those who went before them, but tackling the many complex questions on the course still proved a difficult task. The reality was that only a speedy run on the direct routes would be fully rewarded, but that meant risking a glance-off or stop if the skinny combination obstacles in particular didn’t come up right. In all there were 15 eliminations and two retirements while 38 of the 65 starters collected fence penalties.

Of the top 18 riders going into tomorrow’s showjumping phase, the first three all completed today without adding anything to their dressage score and the remainder picked up only time penalties. In all, 27 horse-and-rider combinations had clear jumping rounds and this group included some very special horses like the 10-year-old gelding, The Duke of Cavan, who carried Japan’s Oiwa Yoshiaki through the extremely challenging double of brush corners at fence six on the direct route to slot into 17th spot, and the super-honest 13-year-old Ranco who wasn’t going to be rushed but who did himself and his Chilean rider, Carlos Lobos Munoz, justice as he carefully negotiated the entire track to finish 30th.

All four of the British contingent collected both fence and time penalties to slot into eighth place and Fox-Pitt was clearly disappointed at his own result. “I had a very good round, it was just annoying that I went off at that third element (of the Ski Jump). It was my fault entirely. I went too quickly I think….and there was no way I could turn him. He didn’t do anything wrong. Watching those first few horses, you could see the course was asking questions all the way, and a lot of them weren’t coming up with the answers,” he added.

Clear

French pathfinder Astier Nicolas was just third to go today with Piaf de B’Neville and returned clear within the time. “It was such a good feeling. I realised the pressure – I had to do well for my team-mates, and that’s a huge feeling. I didn’t expect to have such stress and joy for the team competition. It’s a very demanding course and there’s never a place to drop your reins and let him breathe” he said after moving up from 11th to third place.

Michael Jung’s clear promoted him to silver medal spot, but he said he didn’t have an easy time before he set off on his cross-country run. “The warm-up was difficult on Sam’s nerves. The loudspeakers, horses galloping by, the cheering spectators. He was already sweaty in the stables. He was overly motivated in the beginning but nevertheless wonderful. He gave me a good feeling and was still fresh at the finish line and staying inside the time was easier than I expected”, he explained.

Mark Todd said “I had instructions from the team to stay safe and clear. Fence six had me worried but it was mostly a perfect round. The horse (Leonidas ll) was brilliant all the way through. I was told to take one long route and briefly thought ‘do I disregard the order?’ But then I thought I should better behave myself!”

Exceeded

Individual leader, Christopher Burton, said this evening that finding himself in gold medal spot going into the final day “has far exceeded my expectations!” He’s not getting too carried away however. “My horse is good at dressage and I was told to take one long route and it worked out, so I’m just going to enjoy today and for tomorrow? Whatever….”

Course designer, Pierre Michelet, felt he had provided plenty of different options for the riders to get themselves around the track. “You could change your mind and take a different route if you needed it” he said, “but I was surprised there were a lot of run-outs and dramatic things happening!”

Sir Mark Todd summed it all up this evening. “I want to thank Pierre for building this course because if he hadn’t then we (New Zealand) wouldn’t be in silver medal position tonight! The course offered alternatives to everyone, it was perfectly jumpable but if you wanted to made a medal position then you had to go direct and fast.”

The next hurdle to cross is the final horse inspection at 08.00 tomorrow morning before the medal-deciding showjumping phase of Eventing which will begin at 10.00.

Quotes: 

Mark Todd (NZL) talking about negotiating the “frog” fence at the end of the Fisherman’s Lake complex. “It was a relief to get over that one. The fences are coming quick and fast….two hedges and then the frog, that is hard at 570 metres a minute. There is no room for error.”

Sam Griffiths (AUS): “It was a tough course and I was lucky to be on such a good horse. I am over the moon. What a star. To go straight overall you must be a gold medal rider.”

Tim Price (NZL), talking about his fall on the flat on the way to fence 24 with Ringwood Sky Boy: “You walk the course so many times, you make so many plans and then you go out and fall over! But that is the nature of the game. I had planned the long route (at 23/24) from the beginning and on the first turn it happened. I am so gutted. My horse is absolutely fine.”

Boyd Martin (USA): “I’m so grateful I was on an old racehorse from Kentucky (Blackfoot Mystery)!  He kept fighting the whole way home. It’s one of those courses where you can’t ease up for one second. You’ve got to jump, get through one fence then think about the next.

I’m relieved. My biggest fear was letting everyone down, especially the group that bought him, my team-mates, and my country. The biggest thing that motivates me is to not fail. I have to say, I thought I was fit but I’m not (laughs). I ride events week after week after week and I’ve never been gassed (short of breath) after cross country, which goes to show how hard I had to work to get him around!”

Astier Nicolas (FRA): “I feel very proud this evening being in third place amongst riders like these! If I ride until Mark’s age I still have 33 years to go! We have three relatively young talents on our team, and it’s great for us all to be here.”

Results here 

 

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Klimke secures narrow German lead in Olympic Eventing ahead of intriguing cross-country challenge

RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – EVENTING DRESSAGE DAY 2FEI News

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 7 August 2016Rio 2016

 

Klimke secures narrow German lead in Olympic Eventing ahead of intriguing cross-country challenge

by Louise Parkes

 A brilliant ride by Ingrid Klimke maintained Team Germany’s lead as Eventing dressage drew to a close today at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA). But her score of 39.50 with Bob gives the defending Olympic champions only a fractional advantage of 0.2 penalties over the feisty French side going into tomorrow’s much-anticipated cross-country phase.

In a typical Olympic contest during which some competitors exceeded expectations while others couldn’t find the performances they were looking for today, it was the mark of 39.20 earned by Mathieu Lemoine and the elegant Bart L that put the French right into the frame. So, fourth-last to go, Klimke could feel the pressure, but the 48-year-old daughter of dressage legend Reiner Klimke, who scooped eight Olympic medals during his spectacular career, kept a cool head.  It wasn’t all plain sailing however. “Bob was quite excited outside in the warm-up and he was bucking, but when he came into the arena he just went “OK, here I am, I’m ready – if you want let’s go for it!” she said afterwards.

Little

There’s very little between the leading group of countries going into tomorrow’s cross-country phase, with the Australians lying third, just over four penalty points behind the French, and the British just one more point further adrift in fourth. The Irish moved up a place to fifth thanks to a great performance from Jonty Evans and Cooley’s Rorkes Drift, while New Zealand and USA share sixth.

First-day leader, Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, remains at the head of the individual standings with Australia’s Christopher Burton hot on his heels, and Lemoine has slotted into third and Klimke into fourth, while defending double-Olympic champion, Michael Jung, is next in line in fifth place. With less than five points separating the top 10 riders however, and few, if any, expected to avoid time penalties while negotiating the tough track set by French course designer, Pierre Michelet, the stage is set for a tremendous day of cross-country action tomorrow.

“I haven’t seen such a challenging course since Sydney (2000 Olympic Games). My Bobby is fast and he is a mature horse so he should cope well and I’m looking forward to it. But we know that when we go out there we have to do a very precise job tomorrow,” Klimke said this evening.

Surprises

There were surprises of various kinds as the day-two session played out, with some dreams beginning to unravel while others were just starting to take shape. The latter was the case for Jonty Evans who produced a personal-best score at championship level when posting 41.80 with Cooley’s Rorkes Drift. This has left him lying ninth individually and has anchored his country’s chances going into their more-favoured cross-country phase. The judges clearly appreciated the quality of the canterwork of his 10-year-old gelding, one of 11 Irish-bred horses in the field of 65 starters. Evans said, “I’m thrilled to bits with him, he couldn’t have done any more today – he couldn’t have tried any harder.”

China’s Alex Hua Tian enjoyed some moments of brilliance in his test, but had to settle for 42.40 and 12th place at the end of the day with Don Geniro. “I made two big mistakes, the judges really wanted to give me good mark – but I nailed all the changes I think” he said. “The first entry was great, he has a massive extended trot but he took an unbalanced step and broke into canter. It’s very frustrating because it’s the extended that gives him his big scores!” he pointed out.

Belgium’s Karen Donckers slotted herself into seventh individually when posting 41.10 with Fletcha van’t Verahof, but it was two competitive results from Lemoine and Thibaut Valette (Qing du Briot) who put 41.00 on the board, that kept the French team right in the frame. Meanwhile Australia’s Shane Rose really did the business with CP Qualified whose 42.50 ensured the 56.80 posted by Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio could be discounted.

Tense

Many of the horses were tense coming into the arena today, but Rose reassured his 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding with a big pat on the neck before going to work into the arena, and was rewarded with a very pleasant performance. Last-line British rider, Kitty King, found herself struggling from the start however with the Dutch-bred Ceylor LAN. And another for whom things didn’t go quite the right way was New Zealand’s Jonelle Price whose nine-year-old, Faerie Dianimo, broke into a canter during their early trot-work, eventually posting 49.50. “I was very disappointed” she said, “he was really hot in the warm-up but I was hoping for better in the arena. It was too bad it happened at the Olympic Games, but I’m hoping for a much better day tomorrow.”

Klimke’s vital anchor ride for Germany might also have been blighted by over-enthusiasm, but she managed to get all the fizz under control at just the right moment and pulled off that all-important score that has kept Germany out in front in the race for the team medals. “I was so pleased in the end, he did a fabulous test” she said of the 12-year-old Bob.

Influencing

Every one of the riders agree however that dressage will not be the all-influencing factor in Eventing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Pierre Michelet has thought long and hard about how to challenge the most experienced riders in the sport along with those who have relatively less mileage on the clock.

“I want the best to win without asking too big questions of the less experienced riders. The reputation of the sport is important. I want to challenge the riders and I ask them to find clever solutions for the many options on offer. To get on the podium they will need to be brave, accurate and bold” he said. There has indeed been a lot of course-walking going on over the last few days as riders make their plans and then alter them and settle on new ones that will get them home on the quickest and safest route.

“This course is not about one signature fence, it’s about about clearing all of them! I ask the difficult questions from the start, that is my signature. The first water will be fence no. 4 already. The riders need to be ready from step one.”

Track

Talking about creating the lovely track that wends it way up and downhill through the land that surround the Deodoro military complex he explained, “we started three years ago, first with an architectural firm to map out the track and the walkways and then the track builders started to work with improving the ground. Then we decided the spots for the fences. I came to Brazil in December for a month and the final details took two weeks. The layout was the same for the test event in 2015, but all the fences are new because of the different level of difficulty” he pointed out.

Cross-country day looks set to be a thriller, and it seems it’s going to be a wide-open race for the medals right down to the final day. There is almost nothing between the Germans and French at the head of affairs, and with the British so close to the Australians who are currently in bronze medal spot and Ireland, New Zealand and USA a real threat to any of those ahead of them who might lose their grip there’s no room for error over a course that, the night before they take it on, may well be giving many of the world’s top event riders a restless night’s sleep.

Quotes:

Pippa Funnell (GBR): “I was really, really pleased with his [Billy The Biz] performance, I was thrilled with him. There were a few little bits here and there, but if I’m honest I think I’m being greedy, if I think of where he came from three years ago I’m thrilled.”

Kitty King (GBR): “It was slightly disappointing because he’s capable of a lot better; he did some good work but he just made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes. One of his highlights is usually his medium trot, but it’s a massive atmosphere for the horse and he’s only nine. Today wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for but hopefully we’ll pull some back tomorrow.”

Pierre Michelet course designer (FRA): When asked about the Ground Jury’s opinion of his cross-country track – “they said it is fantastic, but they are always polite!”

Nick Turner, Irish Chef d’Equipe, talking about the competitive position of his team after dressage: “We are doing great and now we just need to keep a lid on it. They (the Irish team) just need to keep doing what they’re doing. This result is why these four riders were selected.”

Results after Eventing Dressage, Day 2 here

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RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – EVENTING HORSE INS

RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – EVENTING HORSE INSPECTION

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 5 August 2016

Swedes steal the show as horse inspection gets Olympic Eventing underway

By Louise Parkes

The Swedish contingent set the photographers alight as Olympic Eventing got underway with the first horse inspection at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) today. A total of 84 horses, including reserves, were trotted up in front of the Ground Jury which is headed up by USA’s Marilyn Payne, and all were passed fit to compete.

 It was the eye-catching bright yellow dresses worn by Frida Andersen and Swedish sisters Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Linda Algotsson that got the shutters snapping. However reserve rider Linda Algotsson’s inclusion in the side has come about at the expense of Anna Nilsson whose 17-year-old gelding, Luron, was withdrawn. The fourth member of the Swedish team is the equally dashing Ludwig Svennerstal.

 Another reserve partnership called up today was New Zealand’s Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy after Jock Paget’s Clifton Lush was also declared a non-runner. Tim joins his wife, Jonelle Price (Faerie Dianimo), Mark Todd (Leonidas ll) and Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation) in the New Zealand side.

 Buoyant

 There was a buoyant mood around the arena, with riders singing the praises of the facilities at Deodoro which British team-member, Pippa Funnell, described as “fantastic”. The 47-year-old, who is a double Olympic team silver medallist and who claimed individual bronze at the Athens Olympics in 2004, said “we didn’t know what to expect when we came here, but so far it’s just unbelievable! It’s really super for the horses, the stables are so spacious and so cool, they are really happy because where they are living is so quiet, and there’s no noise or fuss. They’re loving it!”

 Dressage is first up tomorrow and first into the ring at 10.00 local time will be America’s Jessica Phoenix with A Little Romance, who will be followed by Frenchman Astier Nicolas (Piaf de B’Neville) and then Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe). A total of 33 horse/rider combinations will take their turn tomorrow, and the remaining 32 will do their tests on Sunday.

 Cross-country

 However riders are already thinking ahead to Monday’s cross-country challenge. Course designer, Pierre Michelet (FRA), has given them plenty to think about, particularly through his clever use of the terrain at the Brazilian army sports venue at Deodoro where the 2007 Pan-American Games were staged. “It’s quite tricky and big enough” said Funnell who will partner  the home-bred Billy the Biz. “He (Michelet) has used the hills a lot, and this is definitely an Olympic track. The competition definitely won’t be a dressage test!”

She described the mood of her team, which also includes William Fox-Pitt (Chilli Morning), Kitty King (Ceylor LAN) and Gemma Tattersall (Quicklook V), as “quietly excited. We have a team of good young horses, three of the four are stepping up a level but if they can make that step up they are all very capable.”

 Ireland’s Mark Kyle, also competing at his third Olympics, had plenty of good things to say about the organisation at these equestrian Games too. “Our horses all travelled brilliantly, they arrived last Saturday (six days ago) and we took them for a walk the following day and they felt great!” He also pointed out the feel-good factor for the horses who appeared to be glowing with good health in today’s bright sunlight. “The facility here is really good, lots of arenas and open exercise areas so the horses are very relaxed.”

 Cool

 Talking of relaxation, Germany’s Michael Jung was his usual cool self today having sailed through the horse inspection with his faithful 16-year-old gelding, the spring-heeled Sam. “He’s in brilliant form” said the man who has won all before him and who returns to defend Olympic team and individual gold with the horse he rode to glory in London (GBR) four years ago. Sam wasn’t his first choice for Rio, but when the nine-year-old Takinou was unable to compete, the 34-year-old rider had his older friend on call-up.

 “He’s really ready. He won Badminton this year and he was always my second horse and did all the same training”, said the man who will lead Team Germany in chasing down a third consecutive team title here in Rio.

Jung can be expected to produce a stunning test when he enters the dressage arena tomorrow at 14.58, but he also had Monday’s cross-country run on his mind this morning. “This is a really tough course, not just because the fences are technical but because the hills will really test the condition of the horses. They will need to be very fit.”

 And asked if he felt less pressure competing at his second Olympic Games with a horse he knows so well and which has brought him such extraordinary success, he replied wisely, “yes I can be a bit more relaxed, but I know I still need to concentrate fully. It’s easy to have a run-out, even at the simple fences, or to make a mistake if you don’t keep your mind on your job!”

 Startlist for Eventing Dressage here

 FEI OLYMPIC HUB: for further information visit the FEI Olympic Hub which is dedicated to all things Olympic and Paralympic, both old and new, here.

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals.

The equestrian events in Rio will be staged in the Deodoro Olympic Park, the second largest Olympic cluster, alongside basketball, BMX, canoe slalom, fencing, hockey, modern pentathlon, mountain biking, rugby sevens and shooting.

The countries represented in Equestrian in Rio are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, Poland, Peru, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Republic of South Africa, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

They will compete in:

Jumping: 27 countries, 15 teams, 75 horse/rider combinations

Eventing: 24 countries, 13 teams, 65 horse/rider combinations

Dressage: 25 countries, 11 teams, 60 horse/rider combinations

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RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – DRESSAGE PREVIEW

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 2 August 2016

Can Britain’s golden couple do it again? 

By Louise Parkes

 You could hardly have scripted it better when Great Britain’s Dressage riders scooped Olympic team gold on home turf at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park. A day after their jumpers topped the team podium for the first time in 60 years it was the turn of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin to bring spectators to their feet in celebration of the first-ever British Dressage medals in the history of the Games – and, even better, they were also golden ones. Dujardin went on to add the individual title and, four years later, the question is whether she and her wonderful gelding, Valegro, can do it again.

 They arrived into the sport already on the crest of a wave of excitement created by the spell-binding Dutch partnership of Edward Gal and the fabulous black stallion, Totilas. This pair set the world of Dressage on fire on an August night in 2009 in the shadow of Windsor Castle (GBR) when they won the European Freestyle title, and nothing has ever been the same since.

 The previously relatively sedate sport suddenly realised the entertainment value of the discipline, and Dujardin and Valegro have picked up that flag and flown it high ever since, with a passionate fan-base following their every hoofprint!

 World records

 The pair now hold all three world records in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. They took double-gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA) and Grand Prix Special and Freestyle gold at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen (GER) in 2015. They were also crowned champions of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series in both 2014 and 2015. They have, quite simply, been all but unbeatable.

 However their margin of victory in the Freestyle at Aachen last summer was a very narrow one, with just 0.25 percent separating the British pair from Germany’s Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH who are expected to give their main rivals a run for their money again in Rio.

 Team Germany had to settle for bronze at the Europeans a year ago when the British took silver and the Dutch side of Diederik van Silfhout, Patrick van der Meer, Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud claimed the gold. But the Germans look super-strong for Rio 2016, where Bröring-Sprehe is joined by Sönke Rothenberger (Cosmo), Dorothee Schneider (Showtime FRH) and the inimitable Isabell Werth (Weihegold OLD).

 Werth is a long-time legend with eight Olympic medals already in her trophy cabinet, dating all the way back to the Barcelona Games in 1992 where she took team gold and individual silver with Gigolo. Werth has found another magical partnership in the 11-year-old mare Weihegold, and there’s a whole new energy around the 47-year-old athlete as she heads into her fifth Olympics.

 Spectacular

 At the 2016 German Dressage Championships in Balve in June, Werth pinned her Rio team-mates Dorothee Schneider and world number one Bröring-Sprehe into silver and bronze with some spectacular results.

 Carl Hester (Nip Tuck) joins Dujardin, Fiona Bigwood (Orthilia) and Spencer Wilton (Super Nova ll) in the British bid to defend that London 2012 title, while the Dutch send out Adelinde Cornelissen (Parzival), Edward Gal (Voice), Hans Peter Minderhoud (Johnson) and Diederik van Silfhout (Arlando),.

 But somehow this time around, Team Germany – the country with the most outstanding record in Olympic Dressage with 12 team and seven individual titles to their credit – look set to be the real force to be reckoned with.

 What is Dressage?

Dressage is about training the horse to a high level and highlighting its athleticism and the beauty of its movement. At its best, horse and rider work in complete harmony and together they appear to “dance”!

 How it will play out…

 The team medals will be decided after the Grand Prix Special on 12 August, which is also the second individual qualifier from which the top-18 (and those tied for 18th place) will go through to the Freestyle Final two days later. The Freestyle to Music is a stand-alone competition to decide the individual champion. Only three athletes from each nation are eligible compete in the Freestyle.

 A team is composed of three or four horse/rider combinations, with the best three results from the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special counting for the final team classification.

 A computerized draw to decide the starting order in the Grand Prix will take place after the Horse Inspection on 8 August. Individual athletes will be drawn first, in reverse order of the World Dressage Ranking List, in two groups and with the highest-placed athletes drawn on the second day. Teams will be drawn in groups of five.

 The starting order for the Grand Prix Special will be drawn in groups during the Chefs d’Equipe meeting on the day after the Grand Prix. The starting order of the athletes within a team will remain the same as in the Grand Prix.

 The starting order for the Grand Prix Special will be drawn in the following groups during the Chef d’Equipe meeting on the day after the Grand Prix:

(i) 1st group: individual Athletes placed five to eight (5-8) in the Grand Prix;

(ii) 2nd group: Athletes of the teams placed four to six (4-6) in the Grand Prix;

(iii) 3rd group: individual Athletes placed one to four (1-4) in the Grand Prix;

(iv) 4th group: Athletes of the teams placed one to three (1-3) in the Grand Prix.

 The starting order of the Athletes within a team will remain the same as in the Grand Prix.

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

 Facts and Figures – Dressage:

 25 nations

11 teams

13 countries represented by individual competitors

60 riders in total

The British are team and individual defending champions.

The British partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro won both team and individual gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. They hold the world records in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. They took double-gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA) and individual gold at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen (GER) in 2015. They were also crowned champions of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series in both 2014 and 2015.

Germany’s Isabell Werth is another phenomenon of the sport and looks ready to set a new record at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She already has eight medals from Games dating back to Barcelona (ESP) in 1992 when she took team gold and individual silver. If she adds to her Olympic medal collection in Brazil then she will exceed the nine-medal target set by Anky van Grunsven (NED) during her spectacular career.

Anky van Grunsven also holds the record for taking three back-to-back Olympic titles – at Sydney (AUS) in 2000, Athens (GRE) in 2004 and Hong Kong (CHN) in 2008.

In the history of Olympic Dressage, Germany has dominated the medal tables, taking 12 team and seven individual titles.

There will be three separate competitions – Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Freestyle to Music.

The Dressage Grand Prix takes place on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 August followed by the Grand Prix Special on Friday 12 August. The Grand Prix Freestyle will bring the Dressage discipline to a close on Monday 15 August.

The Team medals will be decided after the first two competitions – the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special – when the scores are combined.

The Freestyle will decide the fate of the individual medals.

The Officials

  Dressage Ground Jury President is Mexico’s Maribel Alonso and the remaining members of the panel are Gary Rockwell (USA), Stephen Clarke (GBR), Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode (NED), Peter Holler (GER), Thomas Lang (AUT) and Susanne Baarup (DEN).

The Judges Supervisory Panel (JSP), was introduced by the FEI in 2011 to provide an official back-up system to correct marking errors at all major events, including Olympic Games. The JSP also evaluates the quality of work of leading Dressage judges, assists in selection of those officiating at the top end of the sport and acts as a link between judges and the FEI. The members of the JSP at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are Mary Seefried (AUS), David Hunt (GBR) and Uwe Mechlem (GER).

FEI Delegate for Dressage is Belgium’s Jacques van Daele.

Dressage Chief Steward is Elisabeth Williams, who will be assisted by fellow-American Lisa Gorretta.

 The Teams 

 Australia: Mary Hanna (Boogie Woogie 6), Kelly Layne (UdonP), Kristy Oatley (Du Soleil), Lyndal Oatley (Sandro Boy). Reserve: Susanne Hearn (Remmington).

 Brazil: Luiza Tavares de Almeida (Vendeval 4), Giovana Prado Pasa (Zingaro de Lyw), Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (Xama Dos Pinhais), Pedro Manuel Tavares de Almeida (Xaparro Do Vouga). Reserve: Manuel Rodrigues Tavares de Almeida Neto (Vinheste).

 Denmark: Anna Kasprzak (Donperignon), Agnete Kirk Thinggaard (Jojo AZ), Cathrine Dufour (Cassidy), Anders Dahl (Selten HW).

 France: Stephanie Brieussel (Amorak), Ludovic Henry (After You), Karen Tebar (Don Luis), Pierre Voila (Badinda Altana), Alexandre Ayache (Axel).

 Great Britain: Fiona Bigwood (Orthilla), Charlotte Dujardin (Valegro), Carl Hester (Nip Tuck), Spencer Wilton (Super Nova ll). Reserve: Lara Griffith (Rubin Al Asad).

 Germany: Kristina Broring-Sprehe (Desperados FRH), Sönke Rothenberger (Cosmo), Dorothee Schneider (Showtime FRH), Isabell Werth (Weihegold OLD). Reserve: Hubertus Schmidt (Imperio).

 Japan: Kilchi Harada (Egistar), Yuko Kitail (Don Lorean), Akane Kuroki (Toots), Masanao Takahashi (Fabriano 58).

 Netherlands: Adelinde Cornelissen (Parzival), Edward Gal (Voice), Hans Peter Minderhoud (Johnson), Diederik van Silfhout (Arlando). Reserve: Madeleine Witte-Vrees (Cennin).

 Spain: Claudio Castilla Ruiz (Alcaide), Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (Delgado), Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez (Lorenzo), Jose Daniel Martin Dockx (Grandioso). Reserve: Borja Carrascoa (Wonder).

 Sweden: Patrik Kittel (Deja), Juliette Ramel (Buriel KH), Therese Nilshagen (Dante Weltino), Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (Don Auriello). Reserve: Mads Hendelowitz (Jimmie Choo).

 USA: Steffen Peters (Legolas 92), Laura Graves (Verdades), Kasey Perry-Glass (Dublet), Alison Brock (Rosevelt). Reserve: Shelly Francis (Doktor).

 The Individuals

 Austria: Victoria Max-Theurer (Della Cavaleria).

 Belgium: Jorinde Verwimp (Tiamo).

 Canada: Belinda Trussel (Anton), Megan Lane (Caravella).

 Dominican Republic: Yvonne Losos de Muniz (Focoloco W).

 Ireland: Judy Reynolds (Vancouver K).

 Italy: Valentina Truppa (Chablis).

 Korea: Dongseon Kim (Bukowski).

 Mexico: Bernadette Pujals (Rolex).

 New Zealand: Julie Brougham (Vom Feinstein).

 Palestine: Christian Zimmermann (Aramis).

 Republic of South Africa: Tanya Seymour (Ramoneur 6).

 Russia: Inessa Merkulova (Mister X), Marina Aframeeva (Vosk).

 Switzerland: Marcela Krinke Susmelj (Molberg).

 Ukraine: Inna Logutenkova (Don Gregorius)

 The Nations

 Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, Republic of South Africa, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA.

 The Full List of Riders

 All the horse/rider combinations are listed here

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