I remember when getting a score of 70 or higher was something we hoped for. Nowadays that score put our team in fifth place and individually Steffen Peters and Ravel stand in 6th with a score of 77.705. Tina Konyot and Calecto V are 27th (70.456). Jan Ebeling and Rafalca are 30th (70.243). Adrienne Lyle stands 35th (69.468). All but Lyle will go on to the Grand Prix Special as they take the top seven teams and the top 9 individual riders. Leading the pack is Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin who rode Valegro to an incredible 83.663. Yes, now getting over 80 is what it takes to win medals. That score and those of her teammates put the British team on top at this stage (79.407). Germany is second with a 78.845.
The Netherlands are third (76.809). Denmark is fourth with a 73.845. And the U.S. team fifth (72.801). The spread in the score makes it very difficult for us to claim a team medal. Yet individually there’s always a chance with Steffen because he’s moved up the ladder many times before.
Watching our riders go gave me the feeling that their goal was to put in very solid performances with no major mistakes. Steffen’s ride was accurate and soft but it felt like he was riding cautious. Even if he’d hoped for a higher score, always the gentleman Steffen commented, “Ravel felt as supple as he has ever done. There were so many highlights that I can’t wait for the next three days.”
Steffen found the arena to be “electric". Ravel looked at the TV cameras and then focused on me. I can’t describe the feeling when he is at his best but he had it today.”
Adrienne had a bit of horse under her and so she rode tactfully. “He was very amped up and rather on the edge,” she explained. “We made a couple of mistakes but I am basically pleased with him. He is an emotional horse and gets a little hot so this wasn’t the easiest arena for him.”
Tina Konyot comes from five generations of equestrians, mostly circus performers but certainly very knowledgeable Dressage riders as well. Tina grew up riding horses and Calecto is a stallion that she owns.
Tina admitted that there were some little mistakes in her ride that lost her points but overall she felt he “was wonderful". He was very well focused and I’m delighted by the scores.”
When asked if we had a chance for a team medal Tina didn’t think so. It’s no longer like it used to be where Germany dominated the Dressage. Now there are lots of countries who have strong teams that could win on their day.
USA teammate Jan Ebeling was pleased with his ride and score. “My horse felt fit and strong and I think she is peaking at the right moment,” he commented.
It’s looking like this is going to be Great Britain’s day and Charlotte is looking good for the Gold, especially after breaking an Olympic Grand Prix record with her score.
“Unbelievable,” she commented. “I wanted to come down here and have fun. I wanted to go out and show what this horse can do. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”[
Being on home turf made these Olympic Games extra special for Charlotte, especially with the thundering applause she and every British rider receives when they enter the ring and after they finish their ride. “The applause is just amazing,” she admitted.
Valegro’s performance was breathtaking. He is an elegant horse that Charlotte said “hates to get it wrong. He always wants to please you.”
British teammate Carl Hester was leading the way after the first of two days of Grand Prix. He scored 77.72 on Uthopia and he’s proud of his horse. “He’s the coolest horse around. If I say walk, he walks; if I say stop, he stops. He’s a bit like a computer with a furry body.”
Richard Davison is the individual rider for Great Britain and he and Artemis are standing 18th after they scored 72.812. He probably said it best about the arena remarking, “I have been around the world a few times but believe me this is the greatest arena I have ever ridden in my life. I have never had so much support. It is important to pay back tributes to the fans.”
His horse had some moments said Richard who admitted to “wiping the sweat from my brow.” He continued, “It was like taking a child to school on the first day. He got quite frightened and wanted to run away.”
Adelinde Cornelissen, the 2012 World Cup winner, is a member of the now third placed Netherlands team. She is riding Parzival and they scored 81.687, a score that also set an Olympic Games Grand Prix record. Parzival wasn’t quite sure about all the people he saw when he entered stadium but once he got into the arena he focused. Despite his age (15), Adelinde noted that Parzival is “really super fit. I have devised a special training program and he has arrived in London at his fittest ever level.”
Adelinde’s teammate Edward Gal is best known for riding the horse Totilas. At the 2010 World Equestrian Games the world saw a horse like no other but since then he’s been sold and will not be at this year’s Olympic Games.
In England he is riding the 11-year-old Undercover, a horse he only started riding six months ago. “We are still building a combination together,” he admitted. “He was a little tense at times and was taking off with me a little, especially in the extended trot.” They finished on a score of 75.395.
Also a member of the Dutch team is eight-time Olympic medalist Anky Van Grunsven. While Salinero is still a spectacular horse, he is now 18 years old. They scored 73.343.
She commented, “This time I am only here for the team, not for myself". While she did her best to focus, Anky was worried about her husband, Sjef Janssen, who is also the team coach. “It has been very difficult,” she admitted. “He fell ill today (flu), but because he had an operation for a tumour last November, I had to get someone to be with him this morning. He is OK but it was a big worry for me. This is the first time that he has not been here to watch me.”
Kristina Sprehe, a member of the German team, was riding Desperados and they scored 79.119. In one corner they ran into the railing just a tiny bit. Kristina explained that her horse is “a fighter and very strong. He came in contact with the rail but no harm done.”
Kristina’s teammate Dorothee Schneider is riding Diva Royal and scored 76.277. They only just started riding in the Grand Prix a little over six months ago, but as Dorothee explained, Diva “gets a little bigger when you enter the ring because she likes to show off.” This was their first Olympic Games and she was thrilled. “I loved my test. The atmosphere was fantastic. I am very happy; my horse came in and did her job.”
It used to be that the teams were decided following the Grand Prix but things have changed and now the top seven teams include their Grand Prix Special into the score to decide the ultimate team medals. That doesn’t take place until Tuesday, August 7th.
In the meantime, feel free to write me with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.