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Joyous scenes as Irish dressage team qualify for Olympic Games for first time ever

Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K scored a brilliant 76.351% to help book their spot.

Ireland's Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K (file pic).
Ireland's Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K (file pic).
Image: Libby Law/INPHO

Updated at 17.03

THE IRISH DRESSAGE team have made history by qualifying for the Olympic Games for the first time ever.

A team consisting of Judy Reynolds, Kate Dwyer, Heike Holstein and Anna Merveldt earned a place at Tokyo 2020 at the European Championships in Rotterdam today.

There were just three spots available at the event, as Ireland ultimately finished second of the teams eligible for qualification. With Germany, Britain, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands having already qualified, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, France and Finland were the other countries competing for a spot.

Spread over two days, Dwyer and Holstein competed on Monday, securing scores of 66.180% and 69.472% respectively.

That left Ireland in 10th place from 15 full teams going into the final day.

Anna Merveldt with Esporim then scored 67.717% earlier today, before Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K registered a brilliant 76.351% that left the Irish team on a final score of 213.40, which was ultimately enough to book their spot in Tokyo.

Ireland were sitting just outside the qualification spots in fourth before Reynolds and Vancouver K’s performance made it a day to remember.


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“I can’t believe we have actually done it,” Reynolds said afterwards. “We talked about it two years ago and it was like ‘hey let’s try and get a team to Tokyo’ and I was thinking in the back of my head that, this is not going to be all that feasible, because at the time we didn’t really have the backup horses to do it.

“But it all came together, this year especially. Heike’s mare improved so much and Anna got the horse and improved it so much, from doing no Grand Prix to this. I was surprised myself that we have got to this level but wow, I can’t believe it. I had an absolutely amazing ride. JP [Vancouver K] was just fantastic today, he was really with me, he let me ride him and just did everything I could have asked of him, he was just super.”

Meanwhile, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden took home gold, silver and bronze respectively at today’s event.

It could become an even better week for Irish horse sport, with the showjumping team aiming to secure Olympic qualification in Friday’s final.


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Paul Fennessy

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