‘The Brits pulled it out of the bag’: Peter Storr reviews the Olympic team dressage


  • Former championship team rider and a top level international judge, Peter Storr, reflects on the top combinations after the team competition in Tokyo, and shares his thoughts on the new Olympic competition format 

    WOW, what an exciting Olympics this is turning out to be, at the halfway point with the team medals now decided. The standard seems to be getting higher and higher.

    My favourite up-and-coming star, who stole the show, was Sabine Schut-Kery with Sanceo. Although not so well known outside of the US, I’ve been lucky enough to see her before, and was a little surprised she didn’t get a higher mark in the grand prix. She rode with so much harmony, with her beautiful horse always staying in self carriage, maintaining a light, uphill frame. I’m sure it was down to her that the US just pipped us Brits into the bronze medal position.

    Sabine’s team-mate Adrienne Lyle went into the Olympics as the US favourite, but Salvino just lost form, not always staying in self-carriage or engaged on his hindquarters. Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper is a great mover, and a beautiful horse, he just tends to lose marks on the piaffe and passage as he sometimes over-balances and starts swaying, and doesn’t always manage to stay regular in the passage.

    Let’s not forget the wonderful, elegant partnership Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera have. With this pair we’re seeing harmony, elegance and expression all in one package, and they deserved to lead the individual rankings in this team competition.

    Jessica’s team-mate Isabell Werth is such a brilliant competitor – she didn’t throw a mark away. She showed off Bella Rose’s best attributes but also had to cover up her weaknesses, such as the collected and extended walk, for which she doesn’t always stay in a clear four-beat rhythm.

    Team-mate Dorothee Schneider, having recovered from a fall earlier this summer, did an amazing job with Showtime FRH, however he made some uncharacteristic mistakes and didn’t always quite stay in the harmonious frame that Jessica managed to produce.

    It was great to see Jessica being rewarded by the judges for her piaffe and transitions. I judged her a couple of years ago in Munich when she was relatively new to the scene and gave her a 10 for her piaffe then – much higher than the other judges – but I just thought, “What more do I want to see?”

    Building atmosphere

    WE are super proud of the British riders and how they all pulled it out of the bag on the day for team bronze. It was just bad luck that Charlotte missed her one-time changes with Gio in the special, but for such a young horse, he is amazing, with so much talent and a temperament to die for. He tries so hard for her.

    Carl Hester has amazing empathy with En Vogue and gave a masterclass in how to ride a correct, harmoniously presented test. And a special mention must go to Lottie Fry. She rode with such determination and kept her nerve in her first Olympics and as trailblazer for the British team in the grand prix.

    I’ve known Lottie since she was a tiny kid and pony rider, and she was always so determined. It’s great to see someone who’s come up through the British youth teams make an Olympics and she’s a credit to everyone who has helped her. She rode such a cool grand prix and kept her nerve even after a small mistake in the special.

    At first I was completely confused by the new format, but I have to say it was exciting and built the atmosphere.

    We were so lucky to have such an amazing panel of judges, they are all highly experienced and I completely put my trust in every single one of them. They were correctly rewarding harmony with expression, rather than expression at the expense of harmony.

    For example, Edward Gal’s fabulous ride Total US has amazing movement and fantastic paces, but sometimes loses harmony and becomes very tight in his topline and back. I’m sure as he develops more strength he will be able to show expression and remain supple and harmonious.

    Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian, while such a talented combination, didn’t always stay in that nice, harmonious balance and self-carriage, which would have been more obvious to those judges on the long side.

    Keep an eye out in the future for Fogoso, the powerful grey 11-year-old Lusitano ridden by Portugal’s Rodrigo Torres, he showed some really correct piaffe and passage and was a credit to his breed. Heiline’s Danciera also caught my eye, under Denmark’s Carina Cassøe Krüth. She’s only 10 and so light-footed, elegant and very elastic – she has a great future ahead of her.

    This column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Friday 30 July

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