Brits start strongly as the Netherlands top the teams in the Tokyo Olympics dressage grand prix

  • The first day of the Tokyo Olympics grand prix dressage concluded with a bang, as Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl banked the highest score of the day aboard TSF Dalera. Jessica recorded 84.38% – an international grand prix personal best for her by more than 2%. She comfortably topped group C, booking her place in the Olympic dressage grand prix freestyle – the individual final – on Wednesday (28 July).

    “There was a lot of power, a lot of energy; she was very focused. When she is that ‘on’ I have to control my body 100% otherwise I can bring her out of balance,” said Jessixa of her and Dalera’s test. “Now I will go away and analyse everything, and try to make [the special] as good as today or even a little bit better.”

    The top two from each of groups in the grand prix will qualify straight through to the freestyle, as well as the next best six riders across both days of the grand prix. Also through to the freestyle from group C is the USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo, who scored 78.42% for second.

    Tokyo Olympic Games grand prix dressage: Lottie Fry takes an early lead riding Everdale

    Britain’s Lottie Fry came out on top of group A, with a superb test on Everdale at her first Olympic Games. Lottie remained impressively cool and collected in the Tokyo evening heat to produce a mistake-free and very classy test aboard the 12-year-old Lord Leatherdale stallion. They received 77.09% to top their group, followed by Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen in second with 75.14%.

    “I was so happy with a lot of it – things like how calm he was in the extended walk, the extended trot, the extended canter, the canter pirouettes. There were a lot of things I was really happy with today,” said Lottie.

    Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour decisively topped group B, scoring 81.06% with the Bordeaux 11-year-old Bohemian. She had Edward Gal on her tail with his young Totilas son Total US, whose highly expressive test earned 78.65% and a ticket to the music.

    Carl Hester riding En Vogue at the Tokyo Olympics grand prix dressage

    Carl Hester’s route to the individual final from group C is less certain. He pulled off a masterful performance in the atmospheric stadium aboard a hot, nervy En Vogue, who he said was very much on edge in the warm-up. They produced some simply stunning work, with the tall Jazz son visibly becoming more confident as Carl guided him expertly through the test. However, they had an expensive error in the two-time changes and in the extended canter, which pulled down their mark to 75.12%, leaving him fourth in what was a very competitive group.

    “He’s never done [anything like] this before – this is enormous for him,” said Carl. “He’s nervous, he’s hot and all of those things and he was very on edge warming up. And you know what? He actually was perfect. He walked, he halted. The fairly obvious mistakes were my two tempis and my extended canter.”

    Carl added his canter work is usually his ‘go to’ marks with En Vogue, and puts the blip down to “rider error”.

    At the halfway mark in the grand prix, Carl sits eighth across all three groups to have ridden so far, putting him in a good position to pick up one of the six “extra” tickets on offer.

    Edward Gal riding Total US at the Tokyo Olympic grand prix dressage

    In this qualifier for the team competition, the grand prix special, the Netherlands are currently leading the way, with Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud both having banked strong scores today. Denmark sit in second followed by Britain and Sweden. Gold medal-favourites Germany currently lie down the order, but have only had one rider in action today, as is also the case with the USA and France.

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