Dressage riders from The Netherlands have made an impression in more ways than one to take an early lead in the team standings at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
A rule change has meant that the modest dark colours usually worn by the riders have been traded for bright orange tailcoats, bringing the dressage riders into line with the country’s showjumpers.
Edward Gal’s score of 78.649 left him second in his group in the Dressage Grand Prix and gave The Netherlands a firm basis on which to build their team challenge. His black stallion, Total US, is only nine years old, and a son of the great Totilas who, with Gal onboard, set the world of dressage on fire a decade ago.
“You feel so much comparison, the same feeling when you give your leg, the same reaction. Totilas was more confident at his age – he (Total US) is a bit shy but I’ve done some more competitions with him now and I feel him getting more confident”, said the Dutchman.
Germany are defending champions and chasing their 14th Olympic team title.
With the competition divided into six groups in total, and three of those groups taking their turn on Friday, but only two athletes earned marks over 80%. and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour was the first of these when putting 81.056 on the board with Bohemian, and later Jessica von Bredow-Werndl set a personal-best when posting the biggest mark of the evening with TSF Dalera, with 84.379.
The USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery also exceeded her personal best by a massive 3.394% with her 15-year-old stallion Sanceo. The German-born rider began her equestrian career performing in exhibitions across Europe with Friesian and Andalusian horses. “In my past I’ve done a lot of entertainment with horses,” Schut-Kery said.
“The passion for dressage was always there so we taught them to lie down, bow or sit or rear on command. But with that we were always very passionate about correct Dressage and training the horse correctly and making it look beautiful,” she said.
Second-last into the arena, Hans-Peter Minderhoud bolstered the Dutch position with a score of 76.817 with Dream Boy, giving his country the lead going into the second half of the Grand Prix ahead of Denmark in second and Great Britain in third.
Austria is out of team contention with the withdrawal of Victoria Max-Theurer and Abbegelen NRW. Abbegelen was diagnosed with an abscessed tooth and was unable to start on Friday.
The dressage competition
The Grand Prix is the Team and Individual qualifier and takes place over two days, July 24-25.
Athletes are drawn in six groups, with three groups per evening.
Another three groups of 10 will compete on Sunday to identify the top eight teams that will go through to Tuesday’s team medals decider, with world No.1 Isabell Werth last to go on Bella Rose. And, for the individuals, the top 18 will going through to next Wednesday’s Freestyle for the individual medals.
Qualifiers from day 1:
- Group A – Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry (Everdale); Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (Dante Weltino OLD)
- Group B – Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (Bohemian); The Netherlands’ Edward Gal (Total Us)
- Group C – Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (TSF Dalera); USA’s Sabine Schut-Kery (Sanceo)