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João Torrão: the Portuguese rider with world-class Iberians, who admires Carl Hester’s ‘attention to equine mental health’ *H&H Plus*

Portugal’s new senior dressage champion João Torrão has risen rapidly through the levels, setting records as he goes. Briony Reed discovers where and how he hones his talent

Dressage rider João Miguel Torrão already has a competition record of which anyone would be proud. It is less than two years since the 27-year-old rode his first international grand prix, and it was also the first test at that level for his equine partner, 12-year-old Lusitano stallion Equador MVL.

Just four months later, the pair won the grand prix special at Hickstead, helping Portugal to its first ever Nations Cup win. They were part of the Europeans team that helped to secure their home country’s qualification for Tokyo, and followed that with a cool performance at Olympia to finish 11th on their first appearance in that intense atmosphere.

They looked set for Olympic selection until Covid stuck its claws into 2020. Undaunted, they set new Portuguese record scores for the grand prix and grand prix special in August – and then surpassed them in November at CDI Alter with 77.3% and 79% respectively, throwing in a freestyle mark of almost 84% for good measure and becoming national senior champions in the process.

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