Hong Kong 13th August
Eleven teams will compete for the Olympic medals in Dressage at the Hong Kong Equestrian Venue in Shatin over two days, beginning on Wednesday. The team test will also become an individual qualifier for a record 22 countries.
Gold and Silver will most likely be decided between Germany and the Netherlands and the Bronze will be keenly contested by USA, Sweden, Denmark, and perhaps Great Britain. The competition opens with the Dressage Grand Prix, Day 1.
The favourites Germany and the Netherlands have a wonderful history in the sport.
Germany has won 11 Gold medals since 1928. The team in Hong Kong is experienced and includes three members of the 2006 World Equestrian Games title winning team of Isabell Werth, Keike Kemmer and Nadine Capellmann. All three rank in the world’s top 12.
The Dutch team bring on Anky Van Grunsven and Imke Schellekens-Bartels as strong leaders. Peter Minderhoud is new to the Olympic Games. Team Gold has evaded the Dutch until now but recent individual form and 2007 European Championships victory suggests 2008 may be their year.
There will be challenges.
The USA can expand on three back to back Bronze medals. Deborah McDonald was in the team at Athens 2004 and returns with Brentina. The team won the 2007 Pan American Games and placed third at the 2006 World Equestrian Games.
Denmark banks on 2007 Freestyle World Championship Silver medallist Andreas Helgstrand, although he rides a different horse, Don Schufro.
Great Britain has an outside chance with Laura Bechtolsheimer ranked 13 in the world
Even Sweden and China could put up a fight. Sweden placed third at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and the 2007 European Championships, while China is entering its first ever participant in Olympic Dressage, Lina Liu who train in Germany.
© Cyberhorse 2008 Toni-Anne Collins