Quadruple Olympic gold medallist criticises judging of Irish dressage rider in Rio

  • The quadruple Olympic gold medallist Nicole Uphoff has reached out to the Irish Olympic dressage rider Judy Reynolds via Facebook expressing her opinion that Judy’s ride on Vancouver K in the grand prix freestyle individual final at the Rio Olympics was undermarked.

    Judy became the first Irish rider ever to qualify for the freestyle. She finished bottom of the pack out of the 18 who qualified, scoring 75.696%, quite a way off their personal best of 79.7%, achieved at Qatar’s CHI Al Shaqab in March of this year.

    Nicole said: “Dear Judy, I just want to express my respect for your very nice ride today! Everything looked very loose and easy; you rode with a soft connection and your horse was in a perfect frame!

    “In my eyes your score is much too low, especially compared to other rides, where horses could hardly breathe! Congratulations from my side.”
    Continued below…

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    Other riders, including international grand prix competitors, said they agreed.

    Judy’s individual judges’ scores ranged from 74.5% (from the judge at K, Gary Rockwell of the USA) to 77% from Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, who was sitting at F.

    There were some individual movements that also caused disagreement between them. For the extended walk, one judge awarded a six, but another an eight. For the one-time changes, she received a 7.5 and a nine.

    This was after having posted a new Irish record — and consequently a new personal best as she was the previous record-holder — in the grand prix special just three days earlier.

    Judy has been crowned Irish rider of the year three times and is based in Germany. She rode at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, despite having an emergency appendix operation just three weeks earlier.

    Nicole won both team and individual gold medals at the Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992) Olympics riding Rembrandt.

    Full 20-page report on the dressage from Rio in H&H this 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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