- 17 Aug 08, 11:32 AM
While the rest of the world watched the fastest men on the planet go head-to-head in the 100m final in Beijing, I was in my usual spot in Hong Kong watching the best dressage riders on the planet!
I have to confess that just before the race I did my own 100m dash to the media centre to watch it on the telly and I wasn't the only one. The place was packed with journos and photographers enjoying Usain Bolt's record win. I guess we all love sport, whatever it is.
Surprisingly, the Hong Kongers nearby were glued to the tennis and completely missed the race, very strange!
Anyway back to the job in hand... the horses. This was only the first stage of the individual dressage competition but inevitably it became a battle between Anky and Isabell. I think I want Anky to win, partly because I met her at Olympia and she is lovely (I've never met Isabell), partly because Isabell already has the team Gold, and partly because the Dutch media here are looking after me by letting me use their results computer to see the team scores.
It's not easy reporting live whilst also trying to add up scores to work out who's in the medals! Plus of course, a win for Anky would make her the first person ever to win three individual Olympic dressage titles. Go girl.
Anyway, both riders did beautiful tests and Isabell's was one of the best I've ever seen and showing 82% on the board until Satchmo had a freak out. It's a measure of how brilliant it was before and afterwards that she still finished in the lead with 75.2.
Emma Hindle will be Britain's only representative in the final next Tuesday. She rode another stunner. Not quite as good as before but there was so much pressure on her. I felt very proud to be watching a Brit ride so well at an Olympics.
There was heartache for Laura B. I for one was expecting her to qualify for the final. I really thought she'd go out and show them what she and Mistral Hojris could do but I think she just played it a bit too safe and her score of 67.16 reflects that. 'Alf' didn't look like the great horse many believe he is. I think Laura was probably worried there may be a repeat of her nightmare test in the team competition when he spooked at the screen. It was still a good test though and let's not forget Laura's only 23, very young in dressage terms. She'll be back.
Now I've sat through a lot of dressage at these games and I have to admit sometimes I find myself drifting away but every now and again a combination really grabs my attention. Some of those that stuck in my mind are the Russian Alexandra Korelova's test on the albino-looking stallion Balagur. The horse really tried for her and it's so nice to see an unusually coloured horse doing well at the top level. How about a skewbald at an Olympic games?! (Though someone reading this will probably tell me it's already happened, I'd love to see if for myself.)
I also enjoyed watching Andreas Helgstrand's Don Schufro, so light on his feet and I love the way he kicks them out in front in passage.
Sadly the judges didn't share my view!
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