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Diary From Athens - Another Day

Jan Mansfield

The wind blew up again today and caused some problems in the dressage arena, especially for Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty.  His usual error-free performance was marred by late transitions and difficulties with the flying changes, along with a spook in one corner.  Nevertheless Iím sure their score of 74.840% would be gladly accepted by most dressage riders. She still leads with 76.524%, just slightly ahead of Anky van Grunsven and Salinero who had a very correct test.  Their first place mark of 77.800% reflected it.  They carry a score of 76.004 into Wednesdayís freestyle. She is looking for her second consecutive gold medal, although she is on a different horse from the one (Bonfire) she had in Sydney four years ago.

Spanish rider Beatriz Ferrer-Salat is currently in third place with a score of 75.213%.  Her teammate, Rafael Soto, riding the Andalusian, Invasor, did not have as good a performance as in the Grand Prix, encountering all kinds of trouble with several movements including the piaffe, usually one of his strengths.  At one point it appeared that Invasor decided to show the crowd what an Andalusion does really well.  In the passage he broke into a Spanish step, which probably did not endear him to the judges!  Soto said later that his horse was tired and has had a cough.
Unlike the dressage phase of the eventing competition, the individual judgesí scores for each movement are not being put up on the scoreboard.  It only shows a running overall average score, which really does not mean very much.  In the press conference Saturday we were told it was ďnot possibleĒ to provide those scores on the board.  However, FDI Press Chief Lucia Montanarella has been very helpful and has supplied a printout of the scores in the Grand Prix (we will also be getting them for the Grand Prix Special).  They make interesting reading.  I was particularly interested in the Canadiansí scores, and although I canít give them all to you, here is a very brief overview:

Leslie Reid and Mark (66.083%) Ė Their scores were quite consistent for every movement, from every judge, with the majority of the marks being 7ís and a sprinkling of 8ís (one for extended trot, one for change of rein in extended canter, one for change rein in extended trot, collected trot). Most of those came from the judge at ďBĒ, Francis Verbeek van Rooy (NED). Her lowest marks (two 5ís, three 6ís) were for the piaffe.

Ashley Holzer and Imperioso (64.667%) -  They appeared to lose their marks for the piaffe, where they got three 5ís and two 6ís.  In general the marks are mostly 6ís, with several 7ís, the highest mark they got.  They got 7 across the board for half pass to the right, collected trot, passage, and change rein in extended canter.

Belinda Trussell and Royan II (66.000%) Ė They got two 8ís for change rein in extended canter, and all the other movements were a mixture of 6ís and 7ís.  For the first movement (enter in collected canter, halt, immobility, salute, proceed in collected trot) they got three 7ís, an 8 from the judge at M and a 5 from the judge at B.

Cindy Ishoy and Proton (66.583) Ė The best scores, one 9, three 8ís and one 7 were for the extended walk.  The biggest discrepancy was for the collected canter/flying change/collected canter where they were given one 5, two 6ís, one 7 and one 8.  They scored lowest on the tempe changes.

Incidentally, Salzgeber and Rusty were awarded a 10 by the judge at C for the flying change and 9ís and 10ís for the rider.  After a very brief scan of all the marks, they appear to be the only entrants who got 10ís.

I had a nice chat with New Zealandís dressage chef díequipe who is here with their one dressage rider, Louisa Hill, riding Gabana (62.708% in the grand prix).  It is only the second Olympics that country has sent a dressage rider.  She says the discipline is still developing in New Zealand but they have a very good Young Rider system in place and good competition with Australia, although getting European experience is a real challenge.  She said coming to the Olympics is an important experience not only for the rider and horse, but for herself to take the knowledge and ideas she gains back to New Zealand.  She said they look to the Spanish and the Americans who have put a huge effort into the development of the elite rider and giving them the European experience.  She said the results speak for themselves.  And, as so many others Iíve spoken to here have said, it is the spirit of the competition that she will remember most from her Olympic experience.

I saw John Madden (American show jumper Beezieís husband) walking up to the dressage ring today, and I asked him if he was a big dressage fan.  He said, ďI just love horses.Ē  Beezie and her fellow teammates are focused on winning the gold in the team competition (the Nationís Cup) which goes tomorrow. The first round begins at 9:00am, with the second scheduled for 8:30 in the evening under the lights.  When the eventers jumped under the lights last week many commented that it was so bright it was like daytime. 

Dressage winds up Wednesday with the top 15 performing their individual freestyle to decide the individual medals.

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