German rider Julia Krajewski thought her hopes of competing in the Olympic eventing at the Tokyo 2020 Games looked uncertain when her potential medallist was retired – but a special mare not only stepped up to get her there, they claimed individual gold and made history.
In a shock announcement earlier this year Julia announced her top ride Samourai Du Thot had been forced to retire after losing an eye. When H&H spoke to Julia in May, it looked like 11-year-old mare Amande De B’Neville would be aimed at the European Championships, but the German rider said “in theory it could still be the Olympics”.
A win in the Saumur CCI4*-L in April put the pair in the Tokyo picture, and they followed this up with fifth at the Luhmuhlen CCI4*-S in June, securing their place on the German Olympic team.
On Friday (30 July) Julia and ‘Mandy’, by Oscar Des Fontaines, scored 25.2 in the dressage – which put them in fourth place going into the cross-country. While the rider found the new Olympic dressage test “intense”, she was happy with the mare, whom she has owned since she was six – with Bernd Heicke.
“She’d been showjumping until then in France, and she’d always been a bit of the underdog in the stable because of Chipmunk and Samouri Du Thot – they’ve always been a bit more known to people.
“But I’ve always found her really cool and she has got quite some character – she’s a real mare. She’s a princess and queen!” said Julia.
Julia and Mandy, who is described as a “galloping machine”, set out as pathfinders for Germany on cross-country day. They produced a solid performance returning home on a clear jumping score, with 0.4 time-penalties.
Julia said the mare was “a little bit surprised” with the surroundings of Derek de Grazia’s course, and got “a bit distracted” by the moving camera.
“Generally she just showed me what a cool mare she is,” she said. “She was jumping, super galloping, even if she was a little bit off the line, she has the biggest heart and she’s the biggest lion and huge fighter. I would like to say it was all fun, but probably three-quarters was real fun, then I had to do a bit of work, but she was really cool.”
Going into the team showjumping Julia sat in provisional individual silver behind Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. An unlucky fence for Oliver in the qualifier pushed Julia and Mandy into the provisional top spot for the individual final – and when Oliver had a further pole in the second round, it was Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser that sat less than a fence behind her on 29.3, meaning a clear round was needed from the German rider for the win.
Julia and the mare put on a stunning performance with space to spare. The pair produced a clear jumping round, and added just 0.4 time-penalties to finish on 26, crowning Julia as individual Olympic champion – and the first female in history to take the title.
“I’m super proud of my horse,” said Julia, adding she was “relieved and happy” to make it happen. “Before we went in, I said ‘Mandy, we’re going to get it’ and I think she knew it was a special day.”
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