Simone Pearce & Destano Perform “Perfect Kickstart to Corona Comeback” in Mariakalnok CDI in Campaign for Australian Olympic Team Spot

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Simone Pearce on Destano at Mariakalnok CDI3*. © EQWO.net Equestrian Worldwide

June 29, 2o2o

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Simone Pearce rode Destano in the Big Tour Grand Prix Special debut for the 13-year-old stallion for the highest Special score of any Australian combination in almost two years.

In what she described as “the perfect kickstart to the corona comeback” at the world’s first international dressage competition in 3 1/2 months, Simone and Destano scored 73.106% in the Special at Mariakalnok, Hungary. It was only the second CDI for the partnership–the first at Grand Prix only was two days before the lockdown began in mid-March.

Simone, 29 years old in three weeks, and Destano are pursuing a place on Australia’s team for the Tokyo Olympics, deferred until next summer because of the pandemic.

Of the 47 Australian rider and horse pairs on the current world rankings, only Kristy Oatley on Du Soleil has posted higher Grand Prix Special scores–twice in 2018.

And the Grand Prix score of 71.239% put Simone and Destano in the top three Australian riders, the others being Kristy on Du Soleil, her 2016 Olympic and 2018 World Games mount, and Mary Hanna on both Calanta and Syriana.

“I’m really happy with the show,” the Germany-based Simone told dressage-news.com of the results for Destano that she began competing in January.

“I feel like we’re really starting to click and develop as a combination. There’s still a lot come for the future.

“I’m really happy to have gotten my first prerequisite score for potentially trying for the Olympics. I had a great feeling on him. It’s been a great show.”

As well as success on Destano, Simone rode what she called the “baby” Montevideo, an eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding, to victories in both the CDI3* Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1 Freestyle and runner-up in Int. 1.

“I really couldn’t ask for any more from him,” she said. “He’s definitely one to watch for the future.”

Simone Pearce on Montevideo. © LL-FOTO.de

The Grand Prix Special is the central feature of Olympic team dressage format. The top eight of the 15 teams in the Grand Prix advance to the Grand Prix Special to music which will decide team medals.

The original Australian team selection criteria for Tokyo required two Grand Prix scores of at least 69% in competitions at CDI3* or above beginning Jan. 1, 2019. New criteria has not yet been announced. Coronavirus led to some event cancellations, with the first Australian CDI since the end of restrictions set for Brisbane in September.

Simone is back fulltime at Gestüt Sprehe at Löningen-Benstrup, the home of Desperados that was ridden by Kristina Kristina Bröring-Sprehe for Olympic silver and gold team medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro medals, respectively, as well as the 2014 World Equestrian Games Olympics, and individual medals.

It is also the home of Millenium, a leading breeding stallion that is trained by Simone.

Simone Pearce preparing Millenium for a training session at Gestüt Sprehe. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

The stud was where she first worked after coming to Europe initially a decade ago in pursuit of developing her modeling career that morphed instead into riding. That took her to training centers in Germany and the Netherlands before ending up in Denmark.

She spent three years with Helgstrand Dressage, an experience she credits with providing her talented young horses to compete and the skills to be a Big Tour rider.

Simone Pearce competing Wladimir O.A., in 2017, the first Big Tour year for the Australian. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com