BRITAIN’S Lottie Fry topped group one on the first morning of the Tokyo Olympics dressage grand prix with a personal best score of 77.096% with the Van Olsts’ stallion Everdale. The 25-year-old rider said she “enjoyed every second” of her first Olympic experience.
“Everdale definitely knew it was a big occasion, all day he knew it was coming,” said Lottie. “He’s so intelligent and as soon as went into the arena he was concentrating on me so hard.
“He was so focused that he did get a shock at the end that there were people watching him,” added Lottie, who did well to settle the stallion when the cheering began after finishing her test.
Lottie also kept her own Olympic nerves well under control.
“I went down the centre line and thought, ‘I’m at the Olympics, I’d better make this as good as I can!’ But I told myself to enjoy it and it felt like Everdale was enjoying it too. I know he’ll always try his best and it was great fun to ride.”
Tokyo Olympics dressage grand prix: Swedish rider second
Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen was the second rider to qualify directly for the grand prix freestyle. She scored 75.140% on 14-year-old Dante Weltino OLD. Therese was visibly relieved after her performance – the pair travelled out to Rio five years ago, but failed the trot-up due to a small injury.
“I was happy to be able to ride in my first Olympic Games, not just to be there,” Therese said. “It was a good, solid test, which was the plan, to get a feeling for the arena and not make any mistakes.”
There’s clearly more to come from this partnership.
“My plan for the next test is to have more power,” Therese added. “I can take the confidence from today and dare to put more pressure on, take the handbrake off and go for it.”
Nanna Skodberg Merrald was third for Denmark on 73.168%, riding the famous breeding stallion Zack, who has previous team experience with Daniel Backmann Andersen.
Mary Hanna, the 66-year-old Australian rider – the first female to make six Australian Olympic teams – scored 67.981% to take sixth spot on Calanta. She was behind the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz (Aquamarijn) and Brazil’s Joan Victor Marcari Oliva (Escorial).
There are two automatic qualifiers for the grand prix special on Tuesday (27 July) from each of the six groups, plus the six riders with the next best scores.
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