Dressage Stars Prepare to Shine at Olympics–Photo Gallery

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Steffen Peters and Ravel getting used to the main Olympic competition arena in London. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LONDON, July 31–Riders and horses preparing for London Olympic dressage competition starting in twodays familiarized themselves with the stadium where 23,000 spectators will pack the towering grandstands at Greenwich Park and, as a bonus, get a panoramic view of the metropolis’s skyline.

Dressage starts Thursday with the first of two days of Grand Prix as the first phase in the team competition. A second phase of the Nations Cup is being implemented for the first time, which will be the Grand Prix Special to be held four days later.

The teams, of which there are 10, are restricted to three combinations so there is no drop score. The top seven teams in the Grand Prix move on to the Special. Each of the competitions count for 50 per cent.

The individual medals will be decided by the musical freestyle as the finale of equestrian competition on Aug. 9.

The top 18 individual pairs from the team competition move on to the freestyle.

A gallery of photos of horses and riders preparing for dressage.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalca, one of the most famous dressage combinations in world because of the horse's connections. Ann Romney, wife of U.S. presidential candidate, a one-third owner, is expected to watch the team competition starting Thursday though her husband has a political campaign appearance scheduled at home. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro and Carl Hester on Uthopia, two-thirds of the Briritsh team, familiarizing themselves with the Olympic competition arena in London. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris, the other British combination, who helped propel the sport to its highest ever level in her homeland by leading British teams that excelled at the 2009 and 2011 European Championships and the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Alf, as she calls the horse, is now 17 years old and these Olympics will most likely be a championship swan song for the Danish warmblood gelding. Note that Laura is not wearing a safety helmet, definitely a minority practice that is a major change in the past year. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com.
Germany's Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW soaking up every moment of the Olympic experience. Te pair was reserve champion in this year's World Cup Final. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kristina Sprehe, aged 26, one of the stars of the German team, training Desperados. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Up until the sale of Totilas to Germany in late 2010, Edward Gal was expected to be the star of these Olympics with the black stallion. Instead he is competing in his first Games with Undercover. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Morgan Barbançon of Spain, the youngest rider in the dressage competition at age 19, walking Painted Black. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén on Don Auriello with Patrik Kittel and Scandic in the background. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Australia's Lyndal Oatley on Sandro Boy being coached by her husband, Patrik Kittel who will be competing for Sweden. Lyndal was Australia's top qualifying combination. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kristy Oatley on Clive showing her national pride on her saddle. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com