Judy Reynolds becomes first Irish woman to reach Olympic final in dressage

Kildare woman qualifies for Monday’s concluding Grand Prix to compete for a medal

Judy Reynolds continues to make Irish Olympic dressage history in Rio de Janeiro as, with Vancouver K, she has qualified for Monday’s concluding Grand Prix Kür (Freestyle to music) which decides the individual medals.

The Germany-based Kildare native was second into the arena on Friday morning with the 14-year-old Jazz gelding which belongs to her parents, Joe and Kathleen Reynolds and goes by the stable name JP. The combination scored 74.090 per cent , a personal best for the rider in the Grand Prix Special, but there was a long waiting period before the important ‘Q’ appeared before the rider’s name early in the afternoon as the competition progressed.

As in Thursday’s Grand Prix, Reynolds mainly scored ‘7s’ and ‘8s’ but a few ‘6.5s’ broke that sequence around halfway while there were three ‘6s’ too, most of these low marks being awarded by the judge at C, one of seven on the ground jury. Her test was however, wildly appreciated by her father and also her husband, Patrick Heavey, in the supporters’ gallery.

While waiting for the news of her qualification to come through, Reynolds said on her Instagram account that “JP was absolutely brilliant again! He was a little tired today but still he gave me everything he had and we scored a Personal Best in the Grand Prix Special. He’s such a good boy! I feel a couple of judges were very hard on us and I hope we don’t suffer because of them. It’s a waiting game now to see if that was enough to get us through to the final. Congrats to the O’Donavan guys who won silver in rowing.”


After the lunch break in the Deodoro Stadium, the emphasis was on the team medals. Germany went into Friday’s Grand Prix Special leading from Britain and the USA and that is how the competition ended, with the German team extending their advantage over Britain, the winners at London in 2012. Last in, Britain’s reigning individual champions, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, failed to repeat their win on Thursday, being beaten into second by Germany’s multiple Olympic champion Isabel Werth (Weihegold).

Greg Broderick’s mount MHS Going Global was accepted at Friday’s horse inspection for the show jumping competition which gets under way on Saturday with the first qualifier, a one-round class.

Four horses were sent to the holding box including the London 2012 winner Nino des Buissonnets whose rider, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, is bidding to become the first Olympic show jumping champion to hold on to his title. The bay was passed on re-presentation and the only horse being held over until Saturday morning is the reserve from Argentina.

Four of the previous five Olympic champions are also competing at the Games - Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum (Barcelona 1992), Ukraine’s Ulrich Kirchhoff (Atlanta 1992 when riding for Germany), The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam (Sydney 2000) and Canada’s Eric Lamaze (Beijing 2008).

Britain, the reigning team champions, are bidding to retain the title with two of their London 2012 squad, Nick Skelton, who returns with Big Star, and Ben Maher who this time rides Tic Toc. The other members of the team are the vastly experienced Whitaker brothers, John with Ornellaia and Michael riding Cassionato.

Grand Prix Special, teams - Gold, Germany 81.936 per cent; Silver, Great Britain 78.602; Bronze, USA 76.667; 4, The Netherlands 75.517; 5, Sweden 74.845; 6, Denmark 74.311; 11 nations started.

Individuals - 1, Germany’s Weihegold (Isabell Werth) 83.711 per cent; 2, Britain’s Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) 83.025; 3, Germany’s Showtime (Dorothee Schneider) 82.619; 4, Germany’s Desperados (Kristina Broring-Sprehe) 81.401; 5, USA’s Verdades (Laura Graves) 80.644; 6, Spain’s Lorenzo (Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez) 77.479; 17, Ireland’s Vancouver K (Judy Reynolds) 74.090; 31 starters.