Australian Olympic Team of Simone Pearce/Destano, Mary Hanna/Calanta, Kelly Layne/Samhitas

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June 25, 2021

Simone Pearce on Destano, Mary Hanna on Calanta and Kelly Layne on Samhitas were named Friday to Australia’s Olympic team. Based on three continents–Australia, Europe and North America–they were the only combinations qualified for the Tokyo Games a month away after other riders withdrew mostly due to the impact of coronavirus on preparations.

The team as announced by the Australian Olympic Committee:

* Simone Pearce, 29, based in Lastrup, Germany, and Destano, 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion, owned by Gestüt Sprehe GmbH and Simone

* Mary Hanna, 66, based in Bellarine, Victoria, Australia, and Calanta, 14-year-old KWPN mare, owned by Mary and Rob Hanna

* Kelly Layne, 46, of Wellington, Florida, USA and Samhitas, 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, owned by Kelly and Nori Maezawa

Simone Pearce on Destano.

Simone Pearce, 30 years old a week before the Olympics start, has established herself as the highest ranked Australian on the world standings with Destano, the horse on which she holds all three Big Tour records for her country–Grand Prix 76.261%, Special 77.894% and Freestyle 81.386%.

She moved from Australia to Europe more than a decade ago looking for opportunities to learn and compete in dressage. She developed a reputation of success with young horses.

Simone Pearce on the 5-year-old Felicia in the rider’s first World Young Horse Championships, at Verden, Germany in 2015. © Ken Braddick/

In 2015, Simone rode Felicia as a five-year-old in her first World Young Horse Championships in what was to become something of annual pilgrimage, initially while working for Helgstrand Dressage in Denmark for three years. That period included a winter competing in national classes on the winter circuit in Wellington, Florida in 2018. With a move to Gestüt Sprehe in Germany two years ago, Simone got to train and compete some of the best stallions in the world. In addition to Destano and Amandori, she also earned Olympic qualifying scores on Double Joy and competed Millenium at Small Tour.

Her Grand Prix resume includes several premier European shows, though the Olympics will be Simone’s first senior team event as well as her first senior championship.

Mary Hanna and Calanta

Mary Hanna will compete at her sixth Olympics when she and Calanta ride in Tokyo next month, the most of any Australian dressage rider. The Tokyo Games will make her the female with most Olympics of any Australian.

Based in Australia, Mary qualified both her top two horses, Calanta and Syriana, for consideration for the Australian team and her results held up despite tough Covid-19 restrictions that have prevented the staging of any international events Down Under since February 2020.

Mosaic was Mary’s first Big Tour mount, going to their first international championship in 1994, the World Equestrian Games in the Netherlands, the open European Championships a year later, the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the World Cup Final in 1997 and a second World Games in 1998.

She took Limbo to both the Sydney 2000 and the 2004 Athen Olympics with the WEG in 2002 and the open 2003 Europeans sandwiched between.  Sancette was her 2012 London Olympic partner as well as for the 2014 World Cup Final and the WEG the same year.

Mary Hanna and Boogie Woogie at the 2016 Olympics. © Ken Braddick/

Mary rode Boogie Woogie on the Australian team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018.

Before coronavirus, Mary competed extensively in Europe. She was coached in recent years by Patrik Kittel, the Swedish Olympic team rider based in Germany and married to Lyndal Oatley, who was a team mate of Mary at the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Mary is a grandmother of three with a fourth due in the next few weeks.


Kelly Layne of Australia on Samhitas at the 2021 Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. © Ken Braddick/

Kelly Layne has competed on four continents since her first Australian team event, 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany where she will join Simone Pearce and Destano for quarantine before heading to Tokyo.

After the WEG with Amoucher, Kelly and her American husband, Steve, moved to the U.S., initially to Colorado and then to Wellington, Florida which has become the major competition center in the Americas.

Since then, she has competed at some of the premier events in Europe, including in a campaign to qualify for the Australian team for the 2016 Olympics. After initial success on Udon P, a KWPN gelding aged 15 at the time, she withdrew the horse for fitness reasons.

She has also competed at CDIs in Japan where she has a client base.

Kelly Layne on Amoucher riding on the Australian team at WEG in Aachen, Germany in 2006. © Ken Braddick/

She acquired Samhitas in 2019, taking over the ride from the USA’s Endel Ots who had competed the Oldenburg gelding at the 2015 World Young Horse Championships.

At the winter-long Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and in Tryon in April, Kelly and Samhitas started nine times for two victories and two other top three placings. And the pair competed in the CDIO3* Nations Cup, her fourth team competition at Wellington in the past seven years.