Olympic debutantes withdraw following Tokyo eventing dressage

  • Belgium’s Olympic eventing combination have withdrawn after the dressage phase of the competition in Tokyo. Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and the 15-year-old gelding Alpaga D’Arville have withdrawn due to a minor injury to the horse.

    The pair had scored 37.2 on the first day of dressage at the Tokyo Olympics, and Lara described making her Games debut after a busy and successful career with this horse as “the cherry on the cake”.

    The gelding, by Wunder Boy V/D Zuuthoeve out of the Shamaraan mare Mooney Raaphorst, is a home-bred who is still owned by Lara’s mother Barbara, and together he and Lara have represented Belgium at two European Championships and the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2018.

    It’s a real family affair, with Lara having also ridden Alpaga’s half sister, Nooney Blue, at WEG in 2010.

    “The owner of Mooney Raaphorst called my dad and said he had this thoroughbred in the field, the mother of the horse he sold us, and that she was 22 and he wasn’t sure what to do with her. He said, ‘You have a lot of fields at your place so why don’t you take her?’. My dad said yes, but my mum said no! But she still ended up at our place,” Lara explained.

    “We used a stallion on her that we had spotted at a show and thought was nice, and we ended up with Alpaga,” she added. “It’s quite something to have known him from the beginning, and I have so many emotions about riding him. He is my best friend.

    “He has been fantastic to train, and [as a six-year-old] won the dressage at Le Lion D’Angers the year it was cancelled, 2012,” she continued. “He is a good dressage horse and a phenomenal cross-country horse, always looking for the fences.”

    The pair’s withdrawal comes as a huge blow to Belgium, as they were the nation’s sole representatives in the Olympic eventing.

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