‘She always tries her heart out’: Olympic debutantes smash personal best to top day one leaderboard

  • Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and her world and European team gold medal-winning ride TSF Dalera smashed their grand prix personal best on their Olympic debut in Tokyo.

    The pair topped group C and the overall leaderboard with a huge 84.4% (84.379%), their best international grand prix score by almost three percent.

    The 14-year-old mare had a bit of a spook before starting her test and Jessica patted and reassured her, before producing the top test of the day.

    Jessica, who is ranked world number two with the Easy Game x Handryk mare, said it didn’t worry her but laughed that she “knew she was awake”.

    “[I felt] a lot of power, a lot of energy, a lot of focusing [from Dalera],” she said.

    “She was very focused because when she is that ‘on’, I have to control my body 100%, because otherwise I can bring her out of balance. So it’s very important.”

    She added: “She is a horse who always tries her heart out for me and she’s incredible.”

    There are no medals for performances in the grand prix test, which runs today and tomorrow; rather this is a qualifier for both the team and individual medal competitions. Scores from the grand prix are not carried forward, meaning combinations will start on a clean slate in both the special and the freestyle.

    Jessica, 35, spoke about the pressure she felt coming into Tokyo compared to other championships.

    “I’ve thought about this pressure for several months, weeks and days, but I came to the conclusion that I can’t do anything else but give my best – and I’m always giving my best,” she said.

    “I wasn’t more nervous than at the German Championships because I also wanted to be super good there. So I think it was about the same level of nervousness, so luckily that was a similar feeling [to today]. And for the Dalera, there’s no difference. She doesn’t know that we are at the Olympics or at the German Championships, so I tried to do the same.

    “[How today went] gives me confidence, but I’m not lazy so I will analyse everything and give her a break tomorrow. That’s our advantage, to have two days off now. And then we prepare for the special.”

    Jessica will ride to a La Traviata soundtrack for the special and her popular La La Land music for the freestyle.

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