AN excellent performance from Irish Dressage combination Heike Holstein and the Irish-bred mare ‘Sambuca’, saw them score 68.432% to finish sixth of 10 competitors in their Grand Prix Group D test on Sunday at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. From the 60 competitors that took part in the opening Grand Prix, the top 18 qualified for the individual final on Wednesday (July 28), after which the individual Dressage medals were presented.
Their score ultimately wasn’t enough to see them qualify for Wednesday’s Individual Final in Tokyo, however, it was another impressive display from Holstein, who was competing at her fourth Olympics, while 12-year-old ‘Sambuca’, whom Heike bred herself, was making her Olympic debut.
Speaking after their performance, Heike said: “I was really happy with her [‘Sambuca’], she went into the ring and really concentrated. We had a few little errors that were my fault, in the first medium trot I had her back a bit too much. I was really happy with the passage and the piaffe has improved a lot, she was really relaxed in the walk and the changes were good. I timed the warm-up just right, I practiced it yesterday at the same time and I had more time today, so I did less with her before I went in. She wasn’t exhausted, but wasn’t too fresh. I was happy with most of it.
“I am really proud of her. When she was a little foal, I never thought that we would get this far, it is a long road and lots of things can happen. In 2019, I finally thought, this might happen!”
All Irish equestrian athletes at the Games are wearing yellow ribbons, in commemoration of the loss of a highly talented young Irish athlete, Tiggy Hancock, in June. Also decorating Heike’s lapel was a beautiful pin designed by Tiggy’s mother specifically for the event.
When asked about the ribbon and pin, Heike proudly mentioned while pointing at them: “Tiggy is at the Olympics in Tokyo and we are very proud to wear this for her.”
Denmark’s Carina Cassoe Kruth (76.677% with ‘Heiline’s Danciera’) and USA’s Adrienne Lyle (74.876% with ‘Salvino’) took the two qualification places for the final from Group D, while six more qualifying places will go to the next best scores across the six groups.
The Irish Eventing team of Sam Watson, Cathal Daniels, Sarah Ennis and Austin O’Connor (reserve), managed by Sally Corscadden, are among the teams tipped to be in medal contention and they get their Olympic campaign underway on Friday (July 30) with the opening Dressage phase. This will be followed by Cross-Country on Sunday, August 1 before the Eventing team and individual Olympic medals are decided following the jumping phase on Monday, August 2.
The Irish Show Jumping team arrive in Tokyo as some peoples favourites to challenge for the team gold medal. Michael Blake’s team of Bertram Allen, Darragh Kenny, Cian O’Connor and Shane Sweetnam (reserve) will first compete in the individual competition on Tuesday, August 3, with 30 of the 75 starters set to qualify for the individual final on Wednesday, August 4. The first round of the Show Jumping team competition takes place on Friday, August 6, with 10 of the 20 teams looking to book a place in the team final on Saturday, August 7.
Where To Watch
RTE are the official Olympic broadcaster for Ireland and will show the Games on RTE TV and on the RTE Player. You will also find comprehensive coverage on BBC TV, BBC Red Button and on Eurosport TV.
More details at www.horsesportireland.ie