‘She wants people to cheer’: mare with big personality tops Olympic dressage heat

  • Denmark’s Carina Cassøe Krüth produced a fabulously expressive test to head group four on the second day of the Tokyo Olympic dressage. Carina, riding at her first championship, scored 76.677% on Heiline’s Danciera, a delightful black mare by Fürstenball OLD x De Niro. This result lifted Denmark to the top of the team rankings.

    Carina has been riding the mare since she was a four-year-old and said she always knew she was destined for the top.

    “It’s very special making a grand prix horse because you never know what they are going to be,” said Carina. “But we knew when we started doing the difficult exercises that she had a real talent.”

    For all her physical talent, Danciera’s trump card is her “fantastic personality”.

    “I’ve never had a horse like her, you can feel when she goes in [to the arena], she’s like ‘look at me’,” Carina aded. “Dressage is normally quiet, but in Denmark when people start applauding on my last centreline, she likes it – you can cheer her.”

    And there’s a lot more to come from the 10-year-old.

    “She’s very good at the basics, and does amazing extensions,” Carina said. “She can shine in a lot of things. Her weakness at the moment is piaffe, she needs more time in the gym! She wants to do it so much, she can become uncoordinated. She won’t be stronger this weekend, but in a year or two’s time.”

    Favourite finishes runner-up

    Adrienne Lyle, the favourite to top this group, finished second. The US team rider appeared to be keeping the throttle back on Salvino, which lacked the fluidity and forwardness the stallion can show. There were mistakes in the zigzag, which pegged the score back to 74.876%, compared to his grand prix personal best of plus-80%. The 14-year-old was previously unbeaten the past two years, although that had been exclusively in American competition.

    “His score was well below what he’s been consistently doing in his tests,” said Adrienne. “The ring is wonderful to ride in, the weather’s actually quite nice. But unfortunately Salvino just got a little bit strong and a little downhill, so we lost the hindleg balance and that threw him off for the whole test. That can happen.”

    But even with a sub-par performance, they still make it through to Wednesday’s grand prix freestyle as the second automatic qualifier from this group.

    Ireland’s individual rider Heike Holstein produced a solid and expressive test with her home-bred mare Sambuca to score 68.432%. It wasn’t enough to qualify, in sixth place, but Heike emerged from the arena with a huge smile, wrapping her arms round Sambuca’s neck.

    There was drama in this group as London-based Singaporean Caroline Chew was eliminated midway through her test due to Tribiani catching his lip and showing blood. Caroline was the first Singaporean athlete to compete in the equestrian events at the Olympics.

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