Historic bronze for Denmark, Germany’s tenth teamgold
By Louise Parks for FEI and Claartje van Andel dressagedirect
As expected after yesterday's first session, it was the Germans who claimed Dressage team gold at the Sha Tin Olympic Stadium in Hong Kong tonight with victory sealed by an emphatic test from Isabell Werth and Satchmo in the closing stages.
The Netherlands had to settle for silver while Denmark earned their first-ever Olympic dressage team medal when taking bronze. The Americans, compromised by a below-par performance from Debbie McDonald and Brentina who simply failed to show their sparkle, finished just outside the medal zone in fourth ahead of Sweden in fifth and Great Britain in sixth.
The tenth Olympic teamgold for Germany Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
Werth’s mark of 76.417% was earned with a near-flawless display that oozed confidence and determination and put her at the top of the individual leaderboard. Isabell stayed just in between safety and taking risks, she said, the right mixture of both. She put her country's success down to just one thing. “The Dutch gave us a wakeup call last year!”, Isabell said. “Now we as a team were working for each other and supporting each other. This made the gold medal now. I’m really happy and it’s very exciting because a lot of people didn’t believe in us after the European Championship last year. We really proved ourselves today!”, she said.
Isabell Werth gave the right mixture between taking risks and safety and aboard Sathcmo took her team to the gold Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
It was Denmark’s Nathalie Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein who first broke the 70% mark today. Her lovely homebred Danish Warmblood gelding Digby showed fabulous piaffe and passage along with correct canter-work. The 70.417% on the board meant that the Danes were very definitely on the rise. Anne van Olst who had showed Clearwater the first day couldn’t believe this historic medal came so near.
German Nadine Capellmann didn’t do too bad either, although the piaffes were showed weakly.
The best teamresult for Denmark: Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein and Digby Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
America's Debbie McDonald was devastated by her performance with the 17-year old Brentina who seemed to struggle all the way through. “I don't know what to say, I just feel awful, I know I've finished the team,” she said after the judges awarded her a mark of 63.000%. Chairman Gislain Fouarge explained afterwards that he felt Brentina had not been in the right shape to perform a test at all. “She shouldn’t have done this to her horse”, he said.
American Steffen Peters showed a great piaffe and passage and some nice extensions. However his score of 70.0% didn’t bring his team back in medal position.
Steffen Peters and Ravel didn’t bring their team back into medal position Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
More riders than Debbie McDonald witnessed problems with their horses. Portugal’s Miguel Ralao Duarte decided to retire when his 13-year old mare Oxalis became totally uncooperative in the ring and jumped away in the extended trot. More devastation was there when Great Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer was doing nicely with Mistral Hojris until the judge’s bell rang to tell her she had made a mistake in her test and she subsequently fell apart. “My horse offered my everything,” the deeply disappointed 23-year old said, “but I let him down”.
Japan’s Hiroshi Hoketsu was looking very good indeed until his mare Whisper suddenly caught sight of the dreaded big screen and took fright, badly spoiling his test. The eldest competitor of this Olympic Games now is out.
Kyra Kyrklund and Max put in a balanced and focused performance to earn 70.583 which keeps her in the frame. Kyra was the more pleased with that as Max has had a high temperature and Kyra had to wait and see if he would come right in time. “However for the last few days Max felt better and I thought he could be competitive again. He was almost too fresh tonight”, Kyra added.
Russia’s Alexandra Korelova and the lovely grey stallion Balagur charmed the crowd and pleased the judges enough to gain a mark of 68.500. This will bring her in the individual test too. The rider has trained with George Theodorescu and most recently with Monica Theodorescu. She believes that her very cute 18-year old horse still has plenty of competition years ahead of him. “He feels like a five year old!” she insisted.
Retirement and future challenges
Before Isabell’s ride everyone wondered if Anky Van Grunsven could pull the Dutch back into the game with one of her dazzling displays of brilliance with Salinero. However although her ride was almost faultless, it didn’t bring the shiver down the spine. Her score of 74.75% to take the individual lead of that moment made it clear that The Netherlands were unlikely to stay far enough ahead to claim the ultimate prize. “I more or less had the handbrake on and couldn’t take all the risks as I wanted to be without mistakes in the first place,” she said. After yesterday we already forgot about the gold medal, Anky pointed out. “Our first two results were just not good enough.”
Anky van Grunsven showed an almost faultless but had the handbrake on Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
In the press conference Anky also said that this will probably be her last Olympic appearance as she wants to spend more time with her children and retirement may be on the cards. “I am getting older and I have already been spoiled with two unbelievable horses. Unless somebody offers me another wonderful horse, I cannot see myself going to London!", she explained. Isabell Werth was asked whether she thought that the Dutch chasing the Germans would be over after the retirement of Anky or Salinero. The question surprised Isabell. “You all might have forgotten the results of the Dutch reserverider Cornelissen in Aachen and the results the Dutch juniors and Young Riders book at Europeans!”, she said.
For the second time this week the champagne corks are popping. Not just in Hong Kong, but all over Germany as Isabell Werth, Nadine Capellman and Heike Kemmer scooped their country’s tenth Olympic team dressage title after the eventers did so.
The individual Grand Prix Special as the first test for the individual medals will be held next Saturday. Tuesday the medals will be decided in Hong Kong with the Freestyle to music.
The podium with the silver Dutch, golden German and bronze Danish riders Picture Ken Braddick www.horsesportusa.com/
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