Ireland has made history at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as the “girls in green” secured the nation’s first dressage place at an Olympic Games.
This was the first time Ireland have fielded a full dressage team at any championships and the pressure was on for the team of Judy Reynolds, Kate Dwyer, Heike Holstein and Anna Merveldt to qualify for Tokyo 2020, with three team spots on offer at these championships. While Denmark was widely expected to snap up one place, there were a host of nations hustling for the remaining two, including Portugal, France, Russia, Austria, Finland and Belgium.
However, a personal best and new Irish grand prix record for the final Irish combination, Judy and the 17-year-old Jazz x Ferro gelding Vancouver K, helped the team to finish seventh and claim a coveted ticket, with Denmark and Portugal also booking their place in Tokyo, finishing fifth and eighth respectively.
“JP was with me every step of the way and felt amazing. I knew it was good, but you’re never sure if it’s enough until it comes up on the board,” said a jubilant Judy, who posted 76.35% with a fault-free round.
“I was trying to stay away from the scores today; I can deal with pressure on myself, but now being on a team it is different. Saying that, I had worked out what I needed, and actually it helped to now that was I needed — a little under 73% — was actually quite doable.
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“This takes the pressure off the rest of the year, which is good considering I have a 17-year-old horse, although he is fit and raring to go,” Judy added.
Germany took the gold medal in Rotterdam, with the Netherlands in silver and Sweden in bronze, following the disqualification of Britain after Charlotte Dujardin was eliminated under blood rules.
Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H for extensive coverage from the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, out 29 August.