Tokyo, Japan – July 28, 2021 – The fourth day of Tokyo 2020 Olympic dressage competition saw the world’s top 18 athletes returning to the stadium at Baji Koen [the equestrian park] in Setagaya City, Tokyo, for the final phase of dressage competition, the Grand Prix Freestyle. Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera had the top scores in both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, and once again the World No. 2 had the performance of a lifetime, peaking at her very first Olympic Games, scoring 91.732% to capture the gold medal ahead of teammate and World No. 1 Isabell Werth and Bella Rose 2 who earned the silver medal. Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin returned to the podium for her third Olympic Games, this time taking home the bronze medal aboard her new mount Gio.
At the beginning of the week of competition, all individual and team competitors were broken into six different groups or ‘heats’, organized following Friday’s health inspection and based on each athlete’s FEI World Ranking. The first half of the groups battled for top scores during Saturday’s Grand Prix, while the second half of the groups rode during Sunday night’s program in the hopes of earning their respective country a spot in the top eight in order to advance to the Grand Prix Special competition. The top two scores in each heat followed by the next highest six scores total advanced to the individual Grand Prix Freestyle competition where 18 athletes competed for individual medals. The draw was broken into three groups based on their scores from the Grand Prix.
Adrienne Lyle of the United States opted to withdraw Salvino (Sandro Hit x Dynasie), a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Betsy Juliano, from competition on Wednesday morning (more here), meaning that Canada’s Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu qualified with All In (Tango X Leontine), a 16-year-old KWPN gelding, and was the first to compete, scoring a 76.404%.
Steffen Peters was the first to return to centerline for the United States with Suppenkasper for his ‘80s dance themed Freestyle performance. Suppenkasper stayed soft and supple, featuring the difficult passage half-pass and piaffe fan for an 80.968%. Carl Hester (GBR) and En Vogue (Jazz x Nicarla), a 12-year-old KWPN gelding, topped the first group though with a technical test that began with a piaffe pirouette followed by a standard canter pirouette. Despite a couple bobbles, their score of 81.818% was good enough to top the first group of athletes.
Following her breakout performance on Tuesday, Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo (San Remo x Rivera) returned for the United States during the second group of horses, beginning with a lovely trot tour, showcasing her mount’s expressive piaffe and passage. There was a small error going into one of the pirouettes during the canter tour, but the power that was displayed during the final part of the performance made for a personal best, scoring an 84.300% to easily top the second group of competitors.
Cathrine Dufour (DEN) was the first to go during the final section with Bohemian (Bordeaux 28 x Sunshine), an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding, performing to music from Les Miserable. Highlights included the extended canter into the pirouette and tempi changes that matched perfectly with the music. The pair’s harmony shone through and took over the lead with a score of 87.507%.
Germany’s Jessica Bredow-Werndl was the leader during both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special and once again had a dominating performance with TSF Dalera (Easy Game X Dark Magic), a 14-year-old Trakhener mare. Featuring music from LaLa Land, the pair showcased uphill and expressive half passes as well as passage and piaffe that matched perfectly with the music. Her final centerline featured a piaffe-passage tour with a half-pass in passage to the right and then a piaffe before heading back left in another half-pass passage. With an artistic score over 97% their combined score of 91.732% would set the standard for World No. 1 Isabell Werth the remaining competitors to chase. It marked the pair’s personal best and first score over 90%, which would eventually capture the gold medal.
Werth entered the arena ready to fight for a top spot aboard her veteran mount Bella Rose 2 (Belissimo x Cadra II), a 17-year-old Westfalian mare. The pair began with a high degree of difficulty, showcasing a piaffe pirouette. They went on to perform a very accurate test that ended with piaffe pirouette and one-handed passage, but Werth and Bella Rose 2 fell just shy of 90%, earning a score of 89.657% for the silver medal.
All eyes were on defending individual gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), who was aboard her new mount Gio (Apache x Zenzi), a KWPN gelding. At just 10 years old, the small chestnut gelding gave every movement his best, showcasing an uphill and expressive trot half pass and a very forward extended canter during their brand new Japanese-themed freestyle. Marking only their fourth competition together, the pair’s technical test would earn an 88.543% to capture the bronze medal.
Germany’s Dorothee Schneider, FEI Dressage World Ranked No. 4, was the final competitor with Showtime FRH (Sandro Hit x Rosaria Alpina), a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, aiming for a German sweep of the podium. However, several errors throughout the test would prove too costly, finishing at the bottom of the standings to leave Bredow-Werndl, Werth and Dujardin atop the leaderboard.
Bredow-Werndl had a standout performance during the Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam with TSF Dalera, which is when she began aiming for the Olympics. The mare felt electric during the night’s performance, responding quickly to each of Bredow-Werndl’s aides, but with Werth next in the ring anything was possible. After hearing Werth’s scores, Bredow-Werndl knew there was a good chance she would be atop the podium, hugging her husband and allowing the emotions of the long journey to an individual world championship victory take over.
Wednesday’s competition marked the final day of dressage competition as the eventing athletes get ready to take center stage with two days of dressage, followed by the cross country and show jumping phases to determine individual and team medals.
C – Jury President – Katrina Wuest (GER)
K – Jury Member – Janet Foy (USA) S
E – Jury Member – Hans-christian Matthiesen (DEN)
H – Jury Member – usan Hoevenaars (AUS)
M – Jury Member – Magnus Ringmark (SWE)
B – Jury Member – Francis Verbeek (NED)
F – Jury Member – Andrew Gardner (GBR)
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) – Individual Gold Medal
On winning the gold medal:
“I was so nervous when Isabell rode because I saw her performance and it was amazing. I didn’t see my performance, so I couldn’t say if it was more or less. When I heard her scores, I just had to cry because it was the moment I realized that it could happen tonight, to become an Olympic champion. It was very emotional and I had to cry in front of all the journalists.”
On the weather:
“The humidity was not that bad tonight, riding in the evening is the best. It was a super atmosphere for us and the horses and it was good for them to cope with. Dalera didn’t give me a feeling it was a problem for her, nor was it a problem for me. I’m very grateful that it has been so perfectly organized that we could ride in the evenings.”
On Dalera’s performance:
“What I felt was that from the very first second to the very last second, she was 100% with me and trying her heart out for me to perform. She was listening to my aids so well that I had to be careful to not do too little or too much. She was incredible tonight.”
On when she realized Dalera’s talent:
“I think around the time of the European Champions in Rotterdam. It wasn’t such a lucky start in the Grand Prix there, and also in the Grand Prix Special we had some very expensive mistakes, but in the Freestyle we already showed that anything is possible. From then on I kept believing that an Olympic Dream could come true.”
Isabell Werth (GER) – Individual Silver Medal
On not earning the individual gold medal:
“Maybe you can follow the results over the past thirty years, I wasn’t always number one. It’s ups and downs all the time. I was really happy today because Bella felt fantastic and when you come out and have a feeling you can show what you wanted to show and there was nothing more you could do, then I’m really satisfied. I’m really happy today because to go down the last line after two weeks here and this mare presents herself in that way and celebrate the piaffe and passage — it couldn’t be much better. It was a great feeling. The little crowd started to clap on the last line and it gave me an extra feeling because I think they felt the same as me. It is a tough sport and tough competition. That’s what we all want to have and love to have. There can’t be 10 winners, we have to decide one winner, then silver and bronze. I really can live with this, it’s a sport I really enjoy and I am patient. Sometimes you have the last points to win, and sometimes not, so this is the sport.”
Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) – Individual Bronze Medal
On earning six Olympic Medals:
“I can’t quite believe that I have as many medals. Today, I was level with Catherine Granger and that was a very surreal and proud moment, but now to have beaten that is absolutely incredible. I am overwhelmed with the fact that I have achieved all of it.”
On her performance:
“The music was only finished three days ago and that was the first time I have ridden to it. Gio has only done one other Freestyle in his life, so for him to go out there at 10 years-old with as little experience as he has is truly outstanding. This is an incredible moment for me to be sitting here. I knew I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I really filled the floorplan to make it as hard as possible and he’s a real tryer and I knew that he could cope with it. It was like the blind leading the blind tonight. He didn’t know what he was doing, I didn’t know what I was doing, but we went in there to have a good time and wanted to enjoy it and we really did do that. I’m really proud of him.”
On her three Olympic experiences:
“My journey with Valegro was a life changing experience and to find another Valegro is near enough impossible. I feel incredibly proud to have another horse here at the Olympic Games. I got him when he was 5 years old and trained him up. To have him here and come away with two medals at my third Olympics – it’s absolutely incredible to be able to achieve that. I have a stable full of young horses that I’m training and I’m always looking to train horses up. I’ve got them from 3 years old all the way coming through, so I have them coming up behind Pumpkin and Freestyle. The other horses I have, it’s a great string to have.”
Sabine Schut-Kery – United States
On her performance:
“I could feel the third day and we haven’t done that before. We had a lot to deal with, long travel, heat, so again it comes down to that he’s there for me and I feel like we do definitely have a partnership. He’s sensitive but not over reactive, simply he just lets me guide him and lets me be the leader. The last time I’ve ridden that freestyle was in 2018, so I can’t ask for anything more other than next time I need to come more polished.”
On her music choice:
“My husband made the music for me, the first song is actually from the movie The Last Samurai. It fits perfectly and I just love it because movie music is meant to bring a certain emotion to you, so I love that style of music. I think it resembles Sanceo, it’s a little bit dramatic but not too powerful.”
Steffen Peters – United States
On his performance:
“It was good. Mopsie gave everything yesterday, every ounce of energy and every single ounce of cooperation. Yesterday, we fought for our team and I wouldn’t say he was tired today, but not as brilliant as yesterday. It was still a clean test and almost 81%, so nothing wrong with that.”
On his silver medal:
“I still start crying thinking about this special moment. I know down to the minute when it happened yesterday. It was 10:05 when everything came down to the wire and what my teammates and my teammates’ horses did not just for the U.S. Dressage nation but the United States was incredible. I’ve been competing for 45 years and that was probably the most special day of my equestrian career and that’s why Tokyo 2020 will always be such a special memory.”
“Our plan was to train in Florida in this climate, and it was sometimes hotter than here. We had our trials in exactly the same climate and we did that for six weeks, not just training at night, sometimes training during the day. I increased my workout quite heavily. I keep getting those text messages that I am the oldest U.S. Olympian to win a medal and I take pride in that. The only thing is I got 10 messages and after 50 messages I was like ‘Ok, I get it!’”
On Sabine’s performance:
“We saw at the trials that there was more in that horse. For her to stay that cool last night and come down center with an 81% was incredible. Honestly, one of the best days of my life. It wasn’t a surprise to me because I know the horse and Sabine has had him since he was 3 years old. It’s like brother and sister, that’s how they grew up. With our coaching staff I knew there was more in there. Debbie McDonald and Christine Traurig did an amazing job, I couldn’t be prouder of my teammate – they’re my heroes.”
Carl Hester – Great Britain
On how his test felt:
“Hot, very. I’ve never done a music [freestyle] on him and, we all know he’s very sound sensitive so, he did a good job. I mean standing next to the speaker, the music when it comes on in there is incredibly loud and it’s harsh so the fact that he got better as I went along was good. I just thought after yesterday’s ride, ‘Please don’t let it go wrong’, and I would end up sliding back down but he didn’t. He tried hard and I rode him a lot slower tonight because I thought, ‘Calm it all down, make sure he finishes relaxed’, and he walked out the ring fine, so that’s good. I’m not trying to win, however bad that sounds. I’m trying to build on him. I think he’s a top horse, so that’s what I’m waiting for.”
On how loud the music was:
“I did a sound check, and I did ask them to turn it down so mine was actually lower I think than everybody else’s, but it still was loud. It’s very loud and the trouble is that it’s a funky beat.”
On his freestyle:
“There’s quite a lot of difficulty in there for a horse that’s tense and a bit nervous, but I mean I’ve got one chance to ride a freestyle in here and this is it unless I go to the European [Championships]. So I thought I might as well do the biggest job I can, have a go at it. I am thrilled with it from what he’s come from, reversing out of the ring and all that sort of thing in the early days. He’s come a long, long way, I can only be happy.”
Charlotte Fry – Great Britain
On her ride:
“It actually felt amazing. It was really the best test he’s ever done, it was such an incredible feeling. It was just a shame when we went into the canter, he got really excited right next to the speaker and put in a little jump, which unfortunately cost us a few movements. The rest of the test, he was just amazing. So with me, and it’s the best he’s ever felt. I felt like I never wanted it to finish, I wanted it to keep going forever.
On their mistake in the test:
“I mean, I just know he did it because he’s so excited. He’s so happy to be in there. And it just got the better of him, at that moment. But as soon as it was over, he was focused again, and then still producing his best work.”
On the Tokyo 2020 experience:
“Well, it’s probably going to take me a long time to actually come down from this and realize what’s happened. I think the main thing I’m going to take away is just how much I love being in that arena. And how much Everdale loved it, and I can’t wait to get back in the arena at the next Games hopefully. It’s just a really proud moment, and I feel so honoured to be able to be here representing my country and being able to do what we love.”
On the influence of her team-mate Carl Hester:
“Carl has literally been there from the beginning. He’s just influenced the sport so much and built it up. He’s won medals at his last three games now. He’s so inspiring, and he’s really helped my career a lot. He’s just an incredible person.”
On what Hester has told her during the competition:
“He just tells me like I’ve done the difficult bit now, all I have to do is go in the arena and do what I do best. And that’s where we love performing. That’s where our horses love performing.”
INDIVIDUAL GRAND PRIX FREESTYLE RESULTS
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Score
1. TSF Dalera / Jessica Bredow-Werndle / GER / Beatrice A. Buerchler-Keller, Max von Bredow / 91.732%
2. Bella Rose 2 / Isabell Werth / GER / Madeleine Winter-Schulze / 89.657%
3. Gio / Charlotte Dujardin / GBR / Charlotte Dujardin and Renai Hart / 88.543%
4. Bohemian / Cathrine Dufour / DEN / Abildgaard Equestrian APS / 87.507%
5. Sanceo / Sabine Schut-Kery / USA / Alice Womble / 84.300%
6. Total Us / Edward Gal / NED / Glock HPC NL B.V. / 84.157%
7. Heiline’s Danciera / Carina Cassoe Kruth / DEN / Paul Thøgersen / 83.329%
8. En Vogue / Carl Hester / GBR / Charlotte Dujardin, Lady Anne Evans, Sandra Biddlecombe, Carl Hester / 81.818%
9. Buriel K.H. / Juliette Ramel / SWE / La Pomme HB / 81.182%
10. Suppenkasper / Steffen Peters / USA / Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki / 80.968%
11. Zack / Nanna Skodborg Merrald / DEN / Blue Hors ApS / 80.893%
12. Dream Boy / Hans Peter Minderhoud / NED / 80.682%
13. Everdale / Charlotte Fry / GBR / Charlotte Fry, Van Olst Horses / 80.614%
14. Dante Weltino Old / Therese Nilshagen / SWE / Dressurpferde Leistungsz, T. Nilshagen / 79.721%
15. Showtime FRH / Dorothee Schneider / GER / Gabriele Kippert, Jobst Krumhoff and Eva-Maria Mann / 79.432%
16. Fogoso / Rodrigo Torres / POR / Rodrigo Torres / 78.943%
17. Elegance / Beatriz Salat-Ferrer / ESP / Deliber S.L. / 77.532%
18. All In / Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu / CAN / Brittany Fraser and Marc-Andre Beaulieu / 76.404%
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