Great Britain has never won a medal in Olympic dressage, but with arguably its strongest team ever, this year has the potential to be the end of the streak. The first British rider to compete was veteran Carl Hester riding the Dutch Warmblood stallion Uthopia. Their stunning performance earned them a 77.720 and gave them the early lead by a wide margin. They held on to that lead, and remain in gold-medal position after the first day of dressage.
German rider Dorothee Schneider rode the stunning, jet-black Diva Royal to a 76.277. She remained in second place position until the penultimate ride of the day: Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris. The WEG silver medalists from Great Britain performed a characteristically stunning test for a 76.839, knocking Shneider to third place, securing Great Britain’s first-place team standing, and giving British dressage fans reason to be very optimistic.
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca of the United States. Photo: Bob Langrish
Jan Ebeling and Rafalca, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare, were the only American horse-and-rider pair to compete today. They had a solid ride in their Olympic debut and earned a 70.243 from the judges, which put them in 13th place at the end of the day.
Although no medals were awarded, history was still made today as Hiroshi Hoketsu, an individual rider representing Japan, took to the ring with his horse, Whisper. At age 71, Hoketsu is the oldest rider to compete in equestrian at an Olympic games. Meanwhile, Jacqueline Brooks of Canada may have made history of her own, being likely the first dressage rider to wear a helmet while competing in the Olympics.
The remaining riders will compete in Grand Prix Dressage tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. local time (6:00 a.m. EDT.)
Keep up with all the 2012 Olympic equestrian news at HorseChannel.com/Olympics.