Dressage Powerhouses of Rio: Day One

Welcome to the 2016 Olympic Games! Yesterday marked the beginning of the eventing competition, with the first horse inspection occurring in the morning. Last night the Opening Ceremony marked the official beginning to the Games, and today we’ll have the first half of dressage. Click here to see the order of go and here for all the details on how to watch live.

The competitors will be performing the OG 4* Test B – Short Version, which really means that they are performing the 2009 FEI 4*-B test, but with a few movements edited out to create a shorter test. The 2009 FEI 4*-B test is always used for four-star events held in even-numbered years, which means it was also used for the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games. Therefore, the more experienced horses will likely be familiar with this test while younger three-star horses will be doing it for the first time.

The first major differences between the OG 4* Test B and the 2009 FEI 4*-B test is the omission of a half-pirouette in the walk at C, which creates a change of rein in the 4*-B test. In the OG test, the extended trot then must go down the long side from H to K instead of across the diagonal HXE.

The next omission occurs in the walk work, where instead of turning to the right at M, performing a halt and rein-back at G, and then crossing the diagonal from H to B, the competitor simply performs the extended walk from C to M to E. Since once again you are on the opposite rein, the canter work is performed first to the left and then to the right, a mirror image of the original test.

Judging the competitors will be Marilyn Payne of the United States, who presides over the ground jury. Andrew Bennie of New Zealand and Sandy Phillips of Great Britain join her as members of the ground jury. All three judges have been in high demand throughout the past two years, and many riders have made an effort to attend competitions with ground juries consisting of one or more of these judges.

SATURDAY, MORNING SESSION

Astier Nicolas and Piaf de B'Neville. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Astier Nicolas and Piaf de B’Neville. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Astier Nicolas (FRA) and Piaf de B’Neville: Always a strong contender, this horse really began coming into his own with his win at Pau last fall. His average over the past two years through six tests is a 41.08, but he has yet to score above 40.0 in 2016. This pair’s personal best of 38.2 came at their most recent start in the Event Rider Masters series at Chatsworth CIC3* in May.

Aiming for: Top 10

Ride time: 9:08 a.m. EST

Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sam Griffiths (AUS) and Paulank Brockagh: Sam and his Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh carry forward an average of 42.62 over the past 18 months in five tests into this Olympic Games. Normally a 40s horse, Paulank Brockagh has only once broken into the 30s, marking down a personal best of 36.6 at the Gatcombe Park CIC3* last year.

Aiming for: Top 25

Ride Time: 9:32 a.m. EST

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sandra Auffarth (GER) and Opgun Louvo: The reigning World Equestrian Games gold medalists will be duking it out with their teammates for the lead after the first phase. Their average of 35.18 in seven tests since 2015 tops the field, and their personal best of 26.1 at the 2014 Luhmuhlen CIC3* has yet to be matched by any competitor here.

Aiming for: Top three

Ride Time: 10:20 a.m. EST

SATURDAY, AFTERNOON SESSION

Karim Florent Laghouag and Entebb de Hus. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Karim Florent Laghouag and Entebb de Hus. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Karim Florent Laghouag (FRA) and Entebbe de Hus: Entebbe de Hus is a promising horse for the French team, averaging a 42.06 in five tests over the past two calendar years. This pair’s personal best score of 38.7 came at an opportune time, as they were representing France at the European Championships at Blair Castle last fall. In their most recent start, they dipped into the 30s for a second time at this level for a 39.0 at Chatsworth.

Aiming for: Top 25

Ride Time: 12:38 p.m. EST

Chris Burton and Santano II won the CCI2* at Camphire on a final score of 24.5. Photo used with permission from Dan McGrath.

Chris Burton and Santano II. Photo used with permission from Dan McGrath.

Christopher Burton (AUS) and Santano II: This young horse only moved up to the three-star level this spring, but an average of 39.17 in three starts caught everyone’s attention. These two laid down a personal best of 37.8 in their very first try at Burnham Market CIC3* earlier this spring, although their scores have crept upwards slowly.

Aiming for: Top 10

Ride Time: 1:02 p.m. EST

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Jenni Autry.

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Jenni Autry.

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning: This accomplished stallion has been competed very sparingly over the past 18 months, averaging a 40.97 in only three starts. One of those starts was a win at Badminton on a score of 39.0, which isn’t even close to his best. In 2014, this pair scored a 31.5 at the Bramham CIC3*, and in general scores in the the 30s more often than not.

Aiming for: Top 10

Ride Time: 1:18 p.m. EST

Tim Lips and Bayro. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tim Lips and Bayro. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tim Lips (NED) and Bayro: With an average of 42.15 in the Olympic qualifying period over eight three- and four-star tests, Tim and Bayro will certainly by in the mix. Their best score of 34.2 actually came at Bayro’s first three-star in 2014 at the Wiesbaden CIC3*, but they’ve shown since then that scores in the 30s are the exception. Both four-star tests Bayro has done were marked almost identically at just over 40.

Aiming for: Top 20

Ride Time: 1:26 p.m. EST

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW at

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW. Photo by Jenni Autry

Micheal Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam: Shockingly, this pair is strong on the flat. Who knew? In the Olympic qualifying period, Sam scored over 40 just one time, at Aachen CIC3* last month. Their average over the time period is a cool 36.51 in seven tests, and consistency is the name of the game. Their personal best of 27.9 came at the Marbach CIC3* in 2014, but they’ve only broken into the 20 at this level one other time.

Aiming for: Top three

Ride Time: 1:58 p.m. EST

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clark Montgomery (USA) and Loughan Glen: As an American, I’m psyched to root for this pair, whose average of 37.86 in seven tests over the Olympic qualifying period will be quite competitive. Loughan Glen has scored over 40 only twice since 2012, and a personal best of 33.3 at Badminton in 2014 had him leading the field after the first phase.

Aiming for: Top three

Ride Time: 2:14 p.m. EST

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