Chief British dressage selector Judy Harvey FBHS shares her thoughts on the British combinations chosen for Tokyo
I’m delighted that Britain has an extremely strong team of young horses going out to Tokyo Games for the Olympic dressage competitions. At their practice run at Royal Windsor, Carl Hester’s ride En Vogue was looking like an individual medal winner. Nobody manages a horse better than Carl. I was impressed by the fitness, the polish and condition of all the horses that night.
Of course, everyone loves Charlotte Dujardin’s Gio. He is so balanced in his conformation; he never looks uncomfortable. He has his ears pricked the whole time, and he has an amazing attitude; he always seems to be enjoying himself. He is outstanding in half-passes, piaffe, passage and pirouettes, all of which are heavily weighted in the scoring.
Gio is little and lightweight, so he should have a comfortable journey over to Japan and will deal well with the heat. We know he flies well as he flew back from the USA when Charlotte bought him, and he takes everything in his stride.
We did not get to see Lottie Fry and Everdale at Windsor, as they are based in the Netherlands. Their form has been outstanding this season; Lottie is an amazing rider and competitor, and the Van Olsts’ stallion has huge talent.
With 1000 people at Windsor, and lots of applause and atmosphere, it will have helped prepare Gareth Hughes’ ride, the electric and powerful Sintano Van Hof Olympia, who is the travelling reserve for Tokyo.
This combination have earned their place based on their scores, and the horse will benefit from the exposure even if he doesn’t get to compete. They will be in Tokyo for some time and so have plenty of arena access. The arena is well away from the spectators, and the numbers will be minimal anyway. It will be great for the horse’s education.
We also have the European Dressage Championships ahead of us in September. We have a wealth of talent, that for one reason or another did not get the preparation they wanted for Tokyo, but will be fighting for those coveted European team places. My hard-working co-selectors David Trott and Jenny Ward will again share a difficult task with me.
It was great to see the British Olympic eventing team perform their dressage test for Tokyo at Windsor too and we wish them all the best of luck. Their test is really quite difficult, and actually I thought their halts and their rein-backs were a class above the dressage horses; they are so accurate. It’s very interesting to see the comparison, going from these lean, mean thoroughbred machines to the dressage horses. It was like seeing a marathon runner and then a top gymnast. All in all, it was very exciting.
My personal hope for Tokyo is that the judges judge each individual movement as a separate mark without considering names and reputations. We have three outstanding equestrian Olympic teams; they are the best riders and horsepeople with fabulous horses backed by a superb support team. Bring on the competition!
Judy’s exclusive column, which also reviews the winter championships, is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 8 July
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