Freshly-Squeezed Live Updates: Dressage Session Two

Julia Krajewski (Germany) and Amande de B’Neville. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Welcome back to the second of three sessions of dressage here at Tokyo! If you’re based in the UK, this is the only one at a civilised sort of time, starting at 9.30 a.m., though that’s a slightly less social 4.30 a.m. for those of you on the East Coast of the US. Nevertheless, we preservere! Scroll on down for your second session live updates – but first, take a quick look at the leaderboard as it stands:

You can also catch up on all the first session’s action, with our full report from Sally Spickard:

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class Best of Session One in Tokyo

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12.06: And here’s what the final dressage session will look like. It’s full of heavy hitters, including reigning Olympic champ Michael Jung.

12.02: The team ranking currently looks like this, with one rider left to go for each. Remember, there are no drop scores this year:

11.59: Here’s the individual top ten, with full results here:

11.58: Slightly surprised by 37.2 for Lara and Alpaga, which puts them into 33rd. Standby for the top ten and team standings.

11.56: That’s a wrap for this session of dressage. The next will take place tomorrow morning at 8.30 a.m. in Tokyo, which means a 12.30 a.m. start tonight for British viewers and a 7.30 p.m. start tonight for East Coast US viewers.

11.55: HUGE pats and a beaming smile as they finish that test. What a special moment this is for Lara, who missed London due to horse injury and had to sit Rio out because she was pregnant. She’s finally here! Get it, girl.

11.54: One of the better reinbacks we’ve seen over the two sessions from Lara and Alpaga. They get a bit backwards before the early changes, thought he first is clean. Slightly better in the last two, though a bit thrusty.

11.53: Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Meier in now for her Olympic debut with stalwart partner Alpaga d’Arville. This is a homebred, and out of the same mare as Nooney Blue, who was Lara’s Young Rider horse and the horse she rode in her first Senior championships. She now has a four-star ride out of Nooney Blue, Hooney d’Arville, so there’s a seriously cool breeding programme going on at Lara’s place.

11.50: It’s a 33 for Janneke, which she should be really happy with – they were correct and workmanlike, and this puts them just outside the top twenty at this stage.

11.49: The final halt is a bit wishy-washy but who cares when it’s your first Olympics: with tears in her eyes and a huge smile on her face, she salutes and hugs her horse.

11.48: Sweet, workmanlike changes from this kind-eyed grey, who wouldn’t be naturally designed for dressage superstardom. These two have a lovely relationship.

11.46: 39.6 for Victoria. Now we have 24-year-old Janneke Boonzaaijer and Champ de Tailleur in for the Netherlands. This is a big step up for this inexperienced pair, who stepped up after some last-minute blips knocked Tim Lips and Herby out of selection contention in what seemed like a real sure thing.

11.43: The final two changes — those in the half-pass — are better than the first two. This won’t be challenging the leaders, but nice for French-based Victoria to get this bit done so she can crack on with the good stuff.

11.41: Valtho hollows in the reinback and offers one too few steps there. Decent shoulder-in, but the transition down to walk is a bit sloppy and rushed.

11.39: Back to some individuals to round out this session. Only one individual rider has made it into the top ten – that’s India’s Fouaad Mirza. Can any of these guys join him? First to try is South Africa’s Victoria Scott-Legendre and Valtho des Peupliers.

11.37: It’s not going to be a super competitive test, but what an experience for this 11-year-old mare and 23-year-old rider. They score a 36 and girlfriend Amanda Brieditis looks delighted for her partner. Onwards!

11.34: Rafael Losano of Brazil in now with Fuiloda G. Rafa makes his Olympic debut here – he’s based with Mark Todd and will be hoping to gain crucial experience for himself and his very green horse, who will likely come into her own for Paris 2024. She only made her FEI debut in 2018.

11.33: Yikes. 34.1 for Sandra is an expensive mark for the Germans – remember, there are no drop scores in this Games. Germany is currently fifth in the team rankings.

11.30: Ahh! Viamant du Matz is the second horse to pick up the wrong lead in what’s meant to be a counter-canter strike off. His second change is hoppy and the final change is late – they’re nearly all the way in the corner before he delivers it with a big swing of the hips. It’s surprising to see this many errors from Sandra, but this is still quite a young and inexperienced horse.

11.27: Time for our next German. This time, it’s Sandra Auffarth, our former World Champion, and the striking chestnut Viamant du Matz. They were second in the final selection trial at Luhmühlen CCI4*-S in June, which was chock-full of Tokyo combinations.

11.25: Economical, correct third change, which is the first in the half-passes, but loses momentum in the last half-pass and the final change suffers as a result. That will really throw his scores. What a shame for Jesse, who rode a blinder of a test there.

11.24: Love that marching walk – Diachello has places to be, but he won’t be ruffled. SUPER first flying change and decent second one.

11.22: Jesse is TALL – like, 6’6 – and is just so able to drop his own centre of gravity and keep his horse together. Great halt and a decent reinback. Nice angle in the shoulder-in, too.

11.21: It’s a 38 for Austin and Salty, who sit just inside the top 30 for now. New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell in now with Diachello. They were 11th at Kentucky this spring and so, so impressive – we’re expecting big things this week and they should go sub-30.

11.18: The changes aren’t super established yet – they’re clean, but he slightly flings every corner of his body in a different direction to make it happen. ‘Salty’ also skips through a couple of unneeded lead changes with his hindend on that final centreline. That could be costly.

11.17: Workmanlike test so far with some little wibble wobbles. He wants to rise above the contact in the walk but transitions very sweetly into the counter-canter. ‘A beautiful strike-orff,’ as Lucinda Green says.

11.15: And we’re back! Ireland’s first in, with Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue making their Olympic debut. He found out after yesterday’s first horse inspection that he’d be riding on the team, when it was decided that Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua would step into the reserve spot because the horse has felt a bit flat.

11.11: It’s 11:11, make a wish! And keep the form guides open so you can learn all about these horses and riders, and the teams:

Form, Function, and Fun Facts: Your Guide to the Tokyo Eventing Competitors

Making Moves for Medals: Your Guide to the Tokyo Teams

11.08: Here are the riders left to come. Note that Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua have been replaced by Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue.

11.06: Final drag break now and then we’ll go into the last group of riders of this session. Here’s the top ten at the mo:

11.05: 33.9 and provisional 24th for Susanna and Imperial van de Holtakkers. A shame – that disastrous first change cost them dearly.

11.04: This has made me laugh. Rookie error to write on one’s sweaty palm, I reckon.

11.03: The final two changes, which come out of the half-passes, are super clean and easy. It’s interesting to see which horses prefer which approach to the changes.

11.02: Oh dear, that first change really doesn’t happen for them. They just about get it before they have to do the second change.

11.00: Italy’s Susanna Bordone and Imperial van de Holtakkers in now. This is a horse who went to the WEG with Belgium’s Joris van Springel in 2018, and Susanna took the ride on after that. He starts his test with his, um, fifth leg out.

10.58: 33 for Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold HDC. He’ll be frustrated with that, because he knows how tough it’ll be for France to defend their Rio team gold.

10.57: Some wobbles in the changes for Nicolas and the relatively inexperienced Absolut Gold. The French have had a couple of big blows this week: the very, very experienced duo Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot had to withdraw a couple of weeks ago, and leading pair Tom Carlile and Birmane were forced to withdraw once in Tokyo after the horse tied up after her final gallop.

10.54: Nicolas Touzaint – who became the youngest ever European Champion at the age of 22 back in 2003. He rode at the Olympics in 2000 at the age of 20, so he brings an extraordinary amount of experience to the table.

10.53: 28 for Louise Romeike and Cato 60 means they now have two riders in the top ten and the team moves in silver position. They’re not messing around, and they still have lynchpin Ludwig Svennerstal to come.

10.51: Louise is an excellent architect of a test. Her strike-off into counter-canter is a thing of beauty.

10.49: I know we all loved Marius – and Hinrich, who worked as a dentist, rather than a professional eventer – so let’s just enjoy this for a moment.

10.48: Sweden’s Louise Romeike and Cato 60 in now. This is another really delicious horse: tall, dark, and handsome. He was produced to the top by her husband Claas, who’s the son of 2008 individual and team gold medallist Hinrich Romeike.

10.46: Malgorzata – known as Gosia to her pals – celebrates all her successful eventing outings with sushi. I hope she’s sourced some good urumaki, because she’s earned a 30.7 and will go into eleventh, tied with Jonelle Price. Awesome stuff!

10.45: They’re young but they’re a reliable pair and shouldn’t be underestimated. They’re doing some really nice canter work here, and Chenaro is such a lovely, game partner. Hopefully he won’t be slammed too much for licking his lips throughout.

10.42: Malgorzata Cybulska and Chenaro 2 in now. This is her first Olympics – in 2019, she made her senior championship debut at the Europeans, despite having about six months off riding that year after a spinal surgery to correct a degenerative disc condition. She’s only 23 and studying Psychology at the University of Warsaw.

10.41: 35.2 for Alex and Lady Chin, who suffered at the hands of those pesky changes. Justice for the Chin!

10.39: Two of the four changes are reactive, but a lovely finish to the test. There’s so much to like about this pair, and this is their first-ever championship. What an accomplishment!

10.38: The second change is going to be expensive, with a big kick out.

10.37: Is it going to get confusing with two men called Alex on the Chinese team? Nah, I believe in us, we can cope with this. Lovely Lady Chin is such an elegant stamp of a horse – some super trot work, and now the walk is on the verge of anticipation but really a beautiful mover in this tricky pace.

10.35: Sun Huadong in for China now with Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z. He goes by Alex, and is based in the Netherlands with former Dutch chef d’equipe Martin Lips and his son, Olympian Tim. I was lucky enough to spend ten days staying with them all in June, and these guys work so hard and ride so well. We saw this pair do a lovely test at Luhmühlen four-star in June – let’s make it happen again, Alex!

10.34: Oh dear, Kevin looks really disappointed with 32.1. This duo certainly can go sub-30 very easily. A shame, but they’re also real climbers. They’ll be hoping for a tough cross-country day now.

10.33: God, this really is such a quick test. Nice work from Kev and Don, but if we’re being critical, it wasn’t their best. The changes weren’t quite there today, so I don’t think we’ll see a personal best from them today.

10.32: Sadly, Kevin’s wife Emma, who rode at the WEG in 2018, isn’t able to be here for her husband’s Olympic debut. She’s at home with their new baby Charli, who was born in June, and we know she’s watching with more nerves than anyone.

10.31: Really marched into that down transition to walk. Lovely stuff. That halt before the reinback was good but a touch fidgety. Pay attention, Don Don!

10.30: Australia’s Kevin McNab in now on the divine Don Quidam. They were sub riders and got swapped into the team after the first horse inspection, despite all horses passing. This pair were sixth at Kentucky this spring, where they romped home inside the time. I am unashamedly obsessed with this cool little gelding!

10.28: 32.6 for Toshi Tanaka and Talma d’Allou, which moves them into 15th at the moment. It’s a good score but a shame, really, because that one error will have been so expensive in what was otherwise a super bit of work.

10.26: Bugger. Toshi is the first to miss the transition into counter-canter from walk. It takes him a while to get the horse to swap, and then the first change comes up within a couple of strides. Luckily, this pair is very good at the changes. Toshi is riding as though the error didn’t happen, and the rest of the canter work is very nice indeed.

10.25: Great halt before the reinback. Toshi, who’s based in the UK with Angela Tucker, is taking his time and riding for accuracy here. He doesn’t want to throw any marks away, and that’s how you get great scores.

10.24: Nice entry and a super, super extended trot. Very correct and relaxed, but with power. Lovely to watch.

10.23: We’re back, I have more coffee, and Toshiyuki Tanaka is working around the outside of the ring with Talma d’Allou. They look good! I’m rooting so hard for Japan to get on the podium here after their years of hard work and sacrifice. They deserve it the most of anyone, in my opinion.

10.19: Catching up on the news on the ground at the mo. Poor Laura Collett says London 52 didn’t want to go forwards at all in the warm-up, which explains some of the resistance and lack of communication we saw. Very minorly, of course – this was still a beautiful mid-20s test – but when you’re watching pairs this exceptional, you pay close attention to the tiny details.

10.16: We appear to have an audio issue in this break. We have dramatic, generic music, the occasional voice of commentator John Kyle – and what sounds like an aggressive tennis match. Every few seconds you just hear a man bellow “EEEEUUUUGGHHHHH” as though something REALLY horrible or REALLY delightful is happening to him. Has anyone checked on Oliver recently?

10.15: We’ll start again in seven minutes with Japan’s Toshiyuki Tanaka and Talma d’Allou up first.

10.12: Time for the first drag break! Here’s a look at the top ten after the first group, with some new entries sneaking in:

10.10: SUCH nice changes – bar one with a kick-out – from this horse, who tries so hard. Melody looks thrilled, despite that little error and a not-so-polished canter strike-off. Huge cheers from the Swiss contingent, including cross-country trainer Andrew Nicholson. They earn a 35.8. That’ll put them 21st at the moment.

10.09: Switzerland’s Melody Johner and Toubleu du Rueire in now. This horse is sired by Mr Blue, which makes him a paternal half-brother to Canada’s Qorry Blue d’Argouges. Love this horse, who has partnered two previous Swiss ladies at championship level.

10.08: Phillip, for what it’s worth, I hope you’re not always going to be known as the girl who didn’t go to Paris.

10.05: 30 for Phillip and Z. Nice slow-mo of him there letting the rain hit his face. Disappointed not to hear this playing:

10.04: Just a reminder that you can see predictions and fun facts about each and every horse and rider in our bumper form guide:

Form, Function, and Fun Facts: Your Guide to the Tokyo Eventing Competitors

10.03: Phillip was individual bronze medallist at Rio with Mighty Nice. We’d be looking at Z to score around a 28, and he’s looking roughly there – though the early canter work is a little bit disconnected. It’s improving quickly.

10.00: Time for our second US rider: this time, it’s Phillip Dutton and Z. At 57, P. Dutty is the oldest American Olympian this year, but he’s not actually the oldest rider in the eventing field – that honour goes to Australia’s Andrew Hoy, who’s 62.

9.59: 25.8 would be the stuff of dreams for most people, but Laura looks disappointed – that’s fourth place, and she knows she could have stormed to the top here and made herself very hard to catch. Oliver is a tough rider to overtake, and Michi probably will be as well – but Laura continues her quest to be eventing’s first-ever female individual gold medalist.

9.58: Weather looks rubbish, but WHO CARES. Changes are solid so far. Wouldn’t say the first one was as perfect and snappy as we’re used to but there wasn’t a mistake there. The horse is maybe just a fraction fizzier and less responsive than normal, though most of this work is still *chef’s kiss*.

9.57: Laura knows how to master every inch of an arena. Poetry.

9.56: Crikey, this is a lovely test so far. We’ve seen them flirt with the 20 mark so many times and they could well lead this phase overall. EXCELLENT halt before the reinback.

9.55: Okay, okay, okay. Breathe. It’s time for Laura Collett and London 52.

9.53: 38.2 for them – and ‘Bomb’ looks delighted. He, like all the Thai riders, is based with France’s Maxime Livio, but he used to be based in the UK with Australian Badminton winner Sam Griffiths.

9.51: Now back onto our team riders. First in, Weerapat Pitakanonda with Carnival March. This horse was top ten at the Young Horse World Championships a few years back.

9.46: A lovely test from 22-year-old Lea Siegl, the youngest horse in the field, and DSP Fighting Line – this is very much a combination that could surprise us this week. They score a 32.6! That’s the best-ever Austrian mark at the Games.

9.36: Peter Flarup and Fascination next up for Denmark. They post a 33.8, which will put them 15th so far.

9.35: Wow – 28 and straight into the top ten! This is just their third four-star together, though this horse has won a lot at the top with Bettina and has been German national champion.

9.30: Morning, folks! We’ll be looking at a group of individual riders first up this morning. First in the area? India’s Fouaad Mirza, who rides the former Bettina Hoy mount Seigneur Medicott. These guys could really make waves here this week.