Wellington, Fla. – June 9, 2021 – Fourteen shortlisted horse-and-rider combinations gathered in Wellington, Florida, Wednesday evening in a penultimate effort to earn a ticket to Tokyo as a part of the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team. Three team spots are up for grabs as well as an alternate. As the first leg of the U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event, athletes and their respective mounts performed a Grand Prix test in a setting staged to mimic the expected conditions of Tokyo in August. The event kicked off at 8:15 p.m. under the lights of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Ring, providing hot and humid conditions in an unfamiliar ring that would challenge the horses and rider’s stamina and focus. Rising to the occasion, Adrienne Lyle and Salvino obtained the highest score of the evening and a new personal best in the Grand Prix, impressing the judges and edging one step closer to Tokyo.
Differing from a selection trial, the top finishers of the observation event do not determine the final U.S. Olympic Dressage Team, but rather provide committee decision makers with a benchmark performance for each horse-and-rider combination. In addition to their performances during the observation event, a multitude of factors ultimately play a role in determining the athletes and horses that make it to the Tokyo Olympic Games, including each pair’s scores from 2020 and 2021, consistency in scores over the last two years and experience at an international level. At the conclusion of the observation event, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) team selectors will determine the three horse and rider partnerships that will represent the U.S. at the 2021 Olympic Games, as well as a fourth horse and rider as a reserve.
The 14 performances throughout the evening were split into three sections based on ranking, with the order of go within each section being drawn at random. In the second section, amateur rider Alice Tarjan and Candescent, her own 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, rode to an impressive lead on a score of 74.282%, a Grand Prix personal best score for the pair. Tarjan would maintain her position on the leaderboard throughout the duration of the second section of riders, only bumping down in the rankings when the final heat began.
As a part of the final section of riders to compete, and the second to last to enter the arena, Lyle laid it all on the line as she made her way down centerline aboard Salvino, a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion. The Wellington based athlete and her Besty Juliano LLC entry received multiple scores of 10 from the judges, including one for their piaffe, ultimately leading them to a new personal best Grand Prix score of 82.413% and a first place finish for the evening. The pair’s previous Grand Prix personal was an 80.06%, which they earned in April of this year at the final CDI of the 2021 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF).
As the final pair to ride down centerline, Sabine Schut-Kery, of Napa, California, and Sanceo also rode to a new personal best Grand Prix score of 78.978%. Multiple marks of 9 from the judges would put Schut-Kery and the Alice Womble owned entry in second place for their efforts under the lights. Schut-Kery has been aiming toward her goal of the Tokyo Olympic Games with Sanceo, a 15-year-old Hanoverian stallion, and back in February the pair won the CDI5* Grand Prix for the Special during Week 7 of AGDF.
Fellow Californian Steffen Peters rounded out the top three on a score of 77.696% with Suppenkasper, who is owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki. Peters and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding had a stellar winter season in Wellington, racking up 20 consecutive CDI wins together throughout AGDF. The 2021 Olympic Games would mark Peters fifth Olympic Games.
The U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event will continue Friday, June 11 with the Grand Prix Special to music kicking off at 8:00 p.m. in PBIEC’s International Ring. The event will not be open to free spectators, but hospitality tickets are available to be purchased in advance of the event. For questions about ticket sales, contact Kay Lamour at firstname.lastname@example.org. Live streaming of the event will be available to watch through the USEF Network.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Adrienne Lyle – U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event Grand Prix winner
On her expectations coming into the U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event:
“I was absolutely thrilled with [Salvino]. He makes me tear up, I have no words for him and every time he is more amazing than the time before. This was a great test for us to do at night, under the lights. I don’t think I have done more than one night class with him, so he was a little fresh and excited, which is great. I can channel all of that energy and I am glad we had the opportunity to do this. He just feels amazing so we will just try to preserve for Friday – he will just tack walk and recover tomorrow, and then we will try to put a repeat in on Friday night.”
On how she prepared Salvino for the U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event:
“I plan his competition schedule very carefully. He knows his job now, he is a seasoned competition horse, so it has just been about tweaking in places – getting the self carriage better, smoothing out the transitions and just making sure it is as polished as it possibly can be.”
On achieving a Grand Prix personal best:
“Like I said, he just makes me tear up because every time he is under the most amount of pressure, he delivers. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, he knows when he goes down centerline that he is all business and he makes me look good!”
On her Special music:
“This is a newer concept for us. Terry Gallo does my Special music, and she also does our Freestyles, and it’s not supposed to be a Freestyle. That is something that is important for the audience to understand, that it is supposed to be background music to accentuate it, but because you cannot deviate in your pattern obviously, you cannot slow down, cut corners or adjust like you would in the Freestyle to stay with the music. So, you want it to fit [the horse] but you don’t want it to be so exact that if you get off it disrupts the ride. His [music] is powerful, it’s harmonious. I’m interested to see how it goes because this is the first time that so many of us have done the Special to music.”
Sabine Schut-Kery – U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event Grand Prix second place
On her performance with Sanceo:
“I think my plan is always to stay true to my training but still to show him off to reach maximum scores. But, he is a stallion and when he gets to a new venue the first day he is quite tense, so I just tell myself to stick with what I would do at home, which paid off! I have to hold myself and trust it because I know I can always add that little extra that I want in the ring. But, I want it to come from an honest spot, so first I need to be in control through my basics that get me from one movement to another. Obviously this is the observation event, so I wanted to aim for a personal best. I have been told in the past that there are 80s in there and I believe in [Sanceo], so that was definitely something I was going for. But again, it all depends on what he is that day. I try to listen to him and take advantage of the 12 years we have together. That is so valuable and I need to take advantage of that.”
On her focus leading into the U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event:
“I think it was the same as everyone – to add on and really go for that last bit of expression and correctness and get to a level of precision with maximum preparation, but while putting that all together in seven minutes, plus also implementing who he is that day. That was my goal from last season. I got a taste of getting close to that 80, so that was also my goal in those two months, to understand what it takes to get there. I also wanted to stay within that fine line of not always riding to the max, but also not getting completely out of training. I wanted to find that good mixture and balance between the two.”
Steffen Peters – U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event Grand Prix third place
On Suppenkasper’s performance:
“[He felt] really good. I had a great feeling in the last few days and he was very calm in here. I like the feeling when I can push him a little bit in the changes because usually I have to seriously put the brakes on, but tonight I could ride him. The first transition to the passage wasn’t as clean, the rest of the test was super clean. Really good pirouettes, a better walk and wonderful half-passes. I am super happy with him.”
On what it would mean to go to the Olympic Games:
“It would be the fifth time for me. I tend to think that with age comes a little more wisdom, and enjoying it a bit more. Before it was always the pressure of delivering for the team, and of course we are going to do that and try our very best, but it is different and the pressure is different now. Even tonight, I enjoyed it much more than previous Olympic trials because [Suppenkasper] is a bit more reliable now than Legolas . With Legolas it was rolling the dice – it could be perfect in the warm up and then questionable in the ring. [Suppenkasper] is just a big teddy bear and I am so grateful that Akiko [Yamazaki] and Jerry [Yang] allow me to ride such a wonderful horse.”
U.S. Dressage Olympic Observation Event Grand Prix:
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Total Score
1. Adrienne Lyle / USA / Salvino / 82.413%
2. Sabine Schut-Kery / USA / Sanceo / 78.978%
3. Steffen Peters / USA / Suppenkasper / 77.696%
4. Nick Wagman / USA / Don John / 75.652%
5. Olivia LaGoy-Weltz / USA / Rassing’s Lonoir / 75.131%
6. Alice Tarjan / USA / Candescent / 74.282%
7. Charlotte Jorst / USA / Katel’s Nintendo / 73.631%
8. Benjamin Ebeling / USA / Illuster Van De Kampert / 72.565%
9. Adrienne Lyle / USA / Harmony’s Duval / 72.456%
10. Jennifer Williams / USA / Millione / 70.848%
11. Susan Dutta / USA / Figeac DC / 70.000%
12. Susan Dutta / USA / Don Design DC / 68.456%
13. Nick Wagman / USA / Ferano / 66.674%
14. Jessica Howington / USA / Cavalia / 63.413%