Sabine Schut-Kery delivered for the third time of asking in the Tokyo Olympic dressage competition, scoring 84.3% to take the lead in the freestyle fight for individual medals around the midway point.
Sabine and her 15-year-old stallion Sanceo have been a revelation at this year’s Games, exceeding expectations in both the first day’s grand prix as well as last night’s special. Yesterday they smashed their personal best to lift the US team up to take the silver medal, and so all eyes were on them as they took to the freestyle. For the third time in a row, they posted a massive personal best.
“It comes down to the fact that he’s there for me, and we have a partnership,” said Sabine. “He lets me guide him and be the leader. I had not ridden that freestyle since 2018, so I cannot ask for anything more.”
Some of the horses this evening have lacked the wow factor after giving their all in their two previous tests in the hot and humid Tokyo conditions, but Sanceo looked fresh and elastic throughout as he danced to The Last Samurai by Hans Zimmer. He launched into an early passage, demonstrating the power and suppleness that has demanded high marks throughout the competition. They scored 88.45% for their technical mark and 80.143% for artistic.
Seeking the extra edge
Sabine said she felt the horse had less “edge” than in their previous Olympic tests.
“I could feel it a little bit on third day, because we have had a lot to deal with the long travel and heat,” she said. “But he was not tired. I was just less polished and not as fluid, and that extra edge was not quite there.”
The pair had limited freestyle experience compared with many of their rivals, with a world ranking in the 50s, but at the age of 52 Sabine is really peaking at this Olympics. Her previous form as an exhibition rider came to the fore as she showing her horse off to the max.
Carl Hester had topped the first group with En Vogue’s brave freestyle effort for 81.82%, but the competition is really hotting up as the higher-ranked pairs are scheduled later.
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