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Four-time Irish Olympian Holstein and Sambuca produce spectacular Dressage routine but fall short

An emotional tribute was also paid to the late Tiggy Hancock.

Heike Holstein rides Sambuca.
Heike Holstein rides Sambuca.
Image: Libby Law/INPHO

Updated Jul 25th 2021, 1:30 PM

IRISH DRESSAGE COMBINATION Heike Holstein and her home-bred mare Sambuca have produced a solid performance in their Grand Prix Test at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

They landed an excellent score of 68.432% after a spectacular routine in Group D, under the setting sun and humid conditions.

It wasn’t enough, however, to advance from a difficult pool as they finished sixth.

The top two combinations from each group along with the six athletes with the next best scores (including ties) qualified for the individual final, the Grand Prix Freestyle.

“I was really happy with her, she went into the ring and really concentrated,” Holstein, Ireland’s sole Dressage athlete who also flew the flag at Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, said afterwards.

“We had a few little errors that were my fault, in the first medium trot I had her back a bit too much. I was really happy with the passage and the piaffe has improved a lot, she was really relaxed in the walk and the changes were good.

“I timed the warm-up just right, I practiced it yesterday at the same time and I had more time today so I did less with her before I went in. She wasn’t exhausted but wasn’t too fresh. I was happy with most of it.”

“I am really proud of her,” she added. “When she was a little foal I never thought that we would get this far, it is a long road and lots of things can happen. In 2019 I finally thought, this might happen!”

Like all Irish equestrian athletes across all disciplines, Holstein wore a yellow ribbon during competition in commemoration of the late Tiggy Hancock.

A highly talented young Irish athlete and a respected member of the Irish Pony High-Performance Eventing Programme, 15-year-old Hancock tragically suffered a fatal incident in June.

“Tiggy is at the Olympics in Tokyo and we are very proud to wear this for her,” Holstein, who wore a pin designed by Tiggy’s mother specifically for the event, added.

“She was a shining star that would have been a promising Olympian of the future,” a Team Ireland statement reads.

“At the young age of 15, Tiggy had already made a mark on the sport and was one to watch whenever she competed, against both senior and youth athletes. Tiggy was well-liked among both junior and senior members of the Irish equestrian family as well as the international equestrian community and her passing has been mourned by all.

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“The colour yellow for the ribbon was selected by the Hancock family as this was Tiggy’s favourite colour and a symbol of the person she was; a bright, bubbly, shining ray of sunshine. Tiggy’s warm nature was felt by everybody in her presence and the yellow ribbon is a reminder of her beautiful nature.”

“We would like to thank the International Olympic Council (IOC) and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) for allowing the Irish equestrian athletes to wear this mark of respect and show their support to the Hancock family during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Joe Reynolds, Acting CEO of Horse Sport Ireland said.

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Emma Duffy

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