Greenwich Park, England – August 2, 2012 – It proved to be an interesting day for the kick-off of Dressage at the 2012 London Olympics. Hometown favorite Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris fell to second place behind British teammate Carl Hester and Uthopia, who scored an excellent 77.720%. Dorothee Schneider and Diva Royal rounded out the top three with a brilliant performance for the German Team that received a total of 76.277%. Flash rain storms caused issues for Canadian rider David Marcus, which has resulted in his team’s elimination. Jan Ebeling and Rafalca, who rest in the 13th ranking with a score of 70.243%, represented the United States during today’s first half of the Dressage Team competition.
Carl Hester and Uthopia (left) were the seventh to show today during the first half of the Dressage Qualifier. The British native gave the crowd something to cheer about when their score of 77.720% was announced. Although they swapped leads during the extended canter, their suspension in their extended trot was exceptional. The pair showed expression and power throughout their ride, with wonderful suppleness, and will lead the competition going into the second half of the Qualifier tomorrow.
“I am very happy - it felt like a very good performance," said Hester. “This is only his second international competition this year. It’s not the highest mark we’ve had, but you have to take into consideration that this is the Olympics. It is the toughest judges, it is the toughest standard and I am in the first group of competitors. The changing in the extended canter was very costly.”
His teammate Laura Bechtolsheimer showed at the end of the day with Mistral Hojris and currently holds the second place position with a score of 76.839%. They had excellent power and received good marks in their piaffe-passage, as well as their extended trot. The duo managed to match Hester’s mistake in the extended canter though, and Mistral Hojris’ hind legs were close together during the one-tempis.”
“I felt like Mistral Hojris (right) put in a really solid performance as always,” expressed Bechtolsheimer. “In parts he got a little bit strong, but I was always able to bring him back. He remained concentrated and focused throughout the test, and I felt like I put in a solid performance. I am pretty gutted for my team that the score didn’t reflect what we thought it would be. It is by far my lowest percentage that I’ve had in a few years. I hope it is just because the marks are lower here.”
Germany’s Dorothee Schneider and Diva Royal currently maintain the third place ranking, having scored a 76.277%. The pair was very relaxed at the walk with an excellent over-track. They also showcased beautiful cadence in the piaffe and a seamless passage transition. Unfortunately they had some uneven steps at the extended trot, but their wonderful partnership shined through during the entire test.
“I loved my test,” smiled Schneider. “The atmosphere was fantastic. I am very happy, my horse came in and did her job. Our first start in Grand Prix was in December. She gets a little bigger when you enter the ring because she likes to show off."
It was a disappointing day for the Canadian Team when rider David Marcus was eliminated. His mount Capital spooked at the beginning of their canter tour, and Marcus was unable to get the mount refocused and was excused from the ring. This has resulted in his elimination, and with no drop score in Team Dressage, Canada is now out of the running for a medal. Ashley Holzer will now compete as an individual.
Dorothee Schneider and Diva Royal (GER)
“Things were going fine until he spotted a TV camera in the corner, and the crowd were moving around in their seats due to the rain, and it all went wrong,” explained Marcus. “He doesn't normally do anything like that. It was totally out of character and I am desperately disappointed."
The USA had just one rider competing today, Jan Ebeling aboard Ann Romney’s Rafalca. Their test was solid and accurate, receiving a score of 70.213%. Although the extended trot lacked suspension, their piaffe-passage continued to improve throughout the test. The pair’s half passes were effortless and they also presented accurate tempi changes.
“I think I had a good ride and I am very happy with it,” commented Ebeling. “I think my second pirouette started a little bit large, she jumped off the line a little bit. Overall it was great. My piaffes were nice and that’s something that has really improved over the last couple of months. The piaffe-passage was good, my frame was good, she was up and she felt really good. I think she is peaking at just the right moment.”
There has been a great deal of attention on Ebeling and Rafalca, because part-owner is Ann Romney, whose husband Mitt Romney is running for President. “TI think it has really ended up being a good thing for the sport,” he explained. “These things don’t really distract me. It has given our sport the opportunity to really be seen. There are so many aspects to this sport.”
The second half of the first Dressage Qualifier will continue tomorrow, featuring Tina Konyot, Adrienne Lyle and Steffen Peters from the United States. The crowd will also be anxious to watch top riders Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and Adelinde Cornelissen of The Netherlands.
Carl Hester and Uthopia
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca
Anne Romney, Elizabeth Meyer and Amy Ebeling
Anky van Grunsven and Salinero (NED) - 5th
Morgan Barbancon Mestres and Painted Black (ESP) - 6th
Claudia Fassaert and Donnerfee (BEL) - 7th
Anne van Olst and Clearwater (DEN) - 8th
Anabel Blakenhol and Dablino (GER) - 9th
Patrick van der Meer and Uzzo (NED) - 10th
Mikaela Lindh and Mas Guapo (FIN) - 11th
Emma Kanerva and Spirit (FIN) - 12th