Team USA Making History on Way to Rio Olympic Games
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May 25, 2016
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
When the American squad won in France it was only the second time ever the United States was victorious in a Nations Cup in Europe and the average of the three winning scores was the highest recorded for any American Big Tour dressage team, according to a review of results.
The win at Compiègne by what team member Shelly Francis labeled “girl power” of Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet, Laura Graves on Verdades and Allison Brock on Rosevelt scoring a total of 226.800 or an average of 75.600 at Grand Prix shared some history with the previous Nations Cup victory in Europe, at Hickstead, England in 1997.
Fritz Kundrun, the now retired German business executive who is a major supporter of the U.S. dressage team owns Rosevelt ridden by Ali Brock and owned Flim Flam ridden by Sue Blinks on the 1997 team. Sue and Flim Flam competed at the.1998 World Games and again in 2002 to win team silver as well as the bronze medal team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Michael Barisone who rode Comanche on the 1997 team was back in 2016 coaching Ali.
Shelly Francis rode Pikant in 1997 as she did at the 1998 World Games and two decades later was aboard Doktor.
With 11 weeks to the start of dressage competition at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, dressage-news.com searched Olympic and world championship results as well as Nations Cup competitions at Grand Prix level.
The previous best team result for the United States was found to be an average of 74.238 per cent for the three scores that counted at the 2014 World Games in Normandy. Before that, it was the average of 73.693 for the American silver medal team at the 2002 World Games of Debbie McDonald on Brentina, now coaching both Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass, Sue Blinks on Flim Flam, Lisa Wilcox on Relevant and Günter Seidel on Nikolaus who is on the European squad this year with Zero Gravity.
Steffen Peters on Legolas, the highest scoring American combination this year with 79.942 per cent at Burbank, California was not in Compiègne. But he is scheduled to compete at Roosendaal, Netherlands next week and with all the combinations at the CDIO5* Nations Cup in Rotterdam later in June.
Robert Dover, the U.S. chef d’equipe and overall coach of the American squad of seven riders and nine horses in Europe vying to claim one of the four places on The Dutta Coep. Olympic team, said after the Nations Cup:
“To say that I am thrilled by the results of our U.S. riders and horses in Compiègne would be an understatement. Each of our athletes stepped up to the plate this week and showed why American dressage is on a great path toward Rio and sustainable excellence. I am proud of and thankful to them all, their wonderful horses, fantastic grooms, personal trainers, Hallye Griffin and our USEF staff, Dr. Meg Mullen and Dr. Rick Mitchell, the very best owners, sponsors and supporters here, at home and around the world.
“America now leads the Nations Cup series and has proven again we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Kasey Perry-Glass, at 28 years old the youngest rider on the team, and the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding scored a personal best 77.400 per cent although less than four months at CDI Grand Prix and being in “a new atmosphere.”
Dublet, she said, “remained calm and focused throughout the test.”
“I believe the more comfortable and brave Dublet and I get the more power and fearlessness we can push for,” Kasey told dressage-news.com. “Like I said in the beginning of the season, Dublet will tell me when it’s time to push and he let me this past weekend. He is becoming very confident in his body and movements to where it’s becoming routine for him. He is one happy horse.”
Marks were high across the board except for collected walk, and Kasey made it clear that ahead of Rotterdam the pair will work on the “Walk. Walk. Walk.”
“The transition from the extended walk to the collected is a hard place for both of us,” she said. “The more I make it normal and routine the better he will be. Then, hopefully in the test it will become better. He is very sensitive so I have to address issues calmly and over a length of time. I can’t expect it to be fixed right away.
She admits to feeling the pressure, but said “it’s manageable. I am having fun and I have a great group of riders and grooms around me to keep me moving forward.”
Laura Graves who on Verdades has jumped to 13th in the world from 265 two years ago and with 2014 World Games, 2015 team gold and individual silver Pan American Games as well as 2015 World Cup Final on their résumé, said, “I could not be more proud or excited about our team performance! We had a great day.”
“My personal test was not a best,” she said of the ride in which was awarded numerous marks of nine and a 10 for the final halt.
“We were battling some distractions due to children which was unfortunate. Diddy was totally brilliant but due to our mistakes the score could not be higher. I’m looking forward to showing him again, since we did not get to show a second day in Compiègne. He is training better than ever and I’m excited to be here!”
A noticeable feature of the group of Americans has been team spirit.
Ali Brock described team atmosphere and morale as “really high.”
Laura Graves put it this way, “The atmosphere is amazing and we all ride, eat and laugh together every day!”
Kasey Perry-Glass said: “The team environment has been great! We truly thrive off each other and lift each other up. Everyone gets along and really wants the best for one another and the team.”