British Dressage Team – photo by Ashley Holzer

Just because everyone seems to be doing them and we are all thinking about the Dressage Phase in a week or so…. here are some of my predictions from my living room via virtual cyberspace experience. (pic shown is not me… but I wish I was going!)

Team medals.  There is a great article from David Stickland and his computer-generated numerical results (which I LOVE) but numbers do not tell the whole story AND he did give a plus/minus of 5 points.  This is quite a large plus/minus when you consider who the riders are and the top ones are NOT giving ANYTHING away.  However, I am sad that he put the Canadians 2nd to last!  Hopefully, we will be on the plus side and go up a spot or two!!

My predictions are on a little bit of feel and a little bit of numbers.  Team Gold – Brits, easy guess.  All three can put in over 80% GP and GPS.  Team Silver – Germany, again easy, but a young and rather inexperienced team.  However, the Germans are always prepared and they could probably have 2 teams of 3 and get 2 medals!!!  So I think that Dorothy, Kristina and Annabelle will be a clear Silver.  Team Bronze – many say the Dutch, but I am thinking Spain because only Adelinde can do the 80% tests and as great as Anky is, she is only low 70s as is the amazing Edward.  Unfortunately, that ain’t enough these days and I think they will end up 4th.  The Spanish have Juan on the super cool Fuego who had a lot of similarities to Totilas, Morgan on Painted Black who can score mid 70s and Beatriz on Delgado.

However, also in that tight group for third is the Danish who have Nathalie on Digby – super cute and usually underscored in low-mid 70s, Anna on Donperignon who  is usually mid 70s as well as Anne on Talkoen.  The USA with Steffen on Ravel, Jan on Rafalca and Tina on Calecto – but my gut says the USA will be 5th or 6th.

Why I don’t like this new format for team medals….

This year, they have changed things a lot.  In the past, the team medals were based on ONLY the GP test with max 4 riders, using the top 3 scores.  The GPS was for the Individual Medal, until Atlanta, where the Freestyle was introduced at the Olympics – and I believe it was a combined score for the GSP and Freestyle for Individual Medal.  Then it changed AGAIN and the GP was for the Team. GPS had a medal, as well as Individual Medals for Freestyle.  This was also a bit silly since there were two Individual medalists.  NOW, the teams are ONLY 3 riders and all scores count, and all 3 must ride BOTH tests for the team.

The reason I don’t like this is that 3 for a team is not very many and there are no drop scores.  Also if ANY teams have a rider pull out, eliminated (like Adelinde at WEG 2010), not pass the vet, etc they will NOT be in contention for a Team Medal. WOW, to me, this makes things very risky!!!  We could have a huge changing of the tides if anything happens – and is that fair? or right for the sport?

I also don’t like the fact that it is both the GP and GPS – really?!? Is that because they don’t want to medal the GPS but don’t really want to see it go away either?  And the top 15 will move onto the freestyle, with a max of 3 riders from each nation for the Individual Medal. And ONLY the Freestyle to count for a medal?!  Really one winner takes all?  Why not a combined score? I mean here in Canada you are not allowed to declare a Champion on only one test result, but you can be Olympic Champion on one result….  I suppose it allows for a more obvious winner to the crowds, rather than this one did a great freestyle and obviously won, but didn’t win a medal.

Individual Medals

Ok, this is hard!!! There are so many top combinations this year, there is no clear winner in the bunch!  I think that if anything there is more volatility in the Freestyle because riders will go for it and take more risks and usually the atmosphere is more electric as well.  So to hedge my bets, here are some of the riders whom I think have a super chance of the top 3.

Valegro – super amazing and just posted at 90% freestyle

Damon Hill – super amazing and 2nd in World Cup with many saying he should have won. Just won the freestyle in Aachen

Parcival – still amazing, won World Cup and Adelinde can go for broke without breakin’ a sweat

Desperados – super cool. Has all the top talent and was 2nd in the freestyle in Aachen after winning both the GP and GPS

Utopia – super cool horse. Will be better with the electric atmosphere, though not proven lately, he is a top top top contender

Mistrals Horjis – still amazing and tip top freestyle who can also go for it without taking much risk

Ok, that is 6 top combinations who can take the top 3 spots….. what do you think?