Tales from Rio: ‘He’s nuts — his difficulty has always been his brain’

  • Irish dressage rider Judy Reynolds says her Rio Olympics ride, the 14-year-old Jazz son Vancouver K, is an “all-round package” in his paces and ability, but his temperament has been the part she has had to work on.

    “He’s nuts,” she smiles. “His difficulty has always been his brain. Over the last year and a half he’s got it together and his brain has caught up with his body and he’s been able to show what he can do better.”

    Judy scored 74.7% this morning in the grand prix to hold 13th place with one session still to go.

    “‘JP’ stayed really relaxed, which is the main thing,” she said. “I felt I could have got a few more points — he felt as good as when he’s scored over 75% in the past — but that’s a really solid score and foundation to go on from. I thought he piaffed and passaged particularly well. His transitions were good — they can be a weak point. His pirouettes were fantastic.”

    Judy has now qualified to ride in the special tomorrow, the second Irish rider to do so at an Olympics after Anna Merveldt in 1992. The best eight individuals who are not part of a team (or whose team does not qualify) make it through here. Judy says there is “real support” in Rio among the riders competing as individuals rather than as part of a team.

    “Everyone’s rooting for each other,” she says. “I went to the opening ceremony, which was fantastic, but I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in the Olympic thing and to treat it like any other show. Maybe I can relax now we’ve got underway, but I’m trying not to go wild. It’s important to focus and do what you do normally.”

    Continued below…

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    Judy Reynolds Ireland dressage riderJudy’s parents Joe and Kathleen are in Rio staying in an apartment near the Athletes’ Village and they gave her the pin she wears on her jacket, which is an actual copy of Vancouver K’s shoe.

    She also sports a vintage Irish flag from a friend and a four-leaf clover from husband Patrick Heavey and his parents, as well as a shamrock “because I’m Irish”.

    Her father Joe has an oil transport business and at one point she drove trucks to earn money.

    “I was the first female to deliver petrol in Ireland,” she says. “I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but it’s a fallback plan D.”

    Full 20-page report on the dressage from Rio in H&H next week, out Thursday 18 August, including full analysis of how the medals were won and comment from Richard Davison and Peter Storr.

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