By U.S. Equestrian Communications Department
Tokyo, Japan – The U.S. Para Dressage Team saw its two remaining combinations in Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton and Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel make their way down the centerline for the FEI Individual Grade Tests at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo, Japan. Trunnell and Dolton went early in the order in Grade I competition and received an 81.464 percent from the judging panel, securing the first individual gold medal for the team since the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. Hart and El Corona Texel received a 69.853 percent for eleventh place in Grade III competition.
Trunnell (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Dolton, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Flintewood Farms LLC and Karin Flint, rocketed to the top of the leaderboard early in Grade I competition with a score of 81.464 percent. The duo, who have impressed in nearly every competition outing since 2018, are currently the number-one ranked para combination in the world and have recorded some of the highest scores across para dressage competition in any Grade.
“It felt like he was really with me and was a really good boy,” said Trunnell. “I didn’t know what he would do, and he surprised me with how calm he’s been. I think this experience has been wonderful everyone is so nice here and helpful.”
Competing in her second Paralympic Games, Trunnell used the atmosphere and the environment of the Equestrian Park to lay down a beautiful test with Dolton, who she has developed an incredibly close relationship with over their three-year partnership.
“I really don’t really think about pressure that much, that’s all just noise to me. It’s just me and Dolton doing our own thing. He is loving all of the attention,” said Trunnell. “Dolton is a very goofy young horse. He can be temperamental, but also very easy to get along with.”
Hart (Wellington, Fla.) guided El Corona Texel, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley, to a solid, but at some moments tense, Grade III Individual Test to earn a 69.853 percent from the panel. While the pair have scored higher marks in the test previously, Hart is ready to refocus on tomorrow’s team test to try and help bring home a coveted team medal to the U.S.
“I was happy with the warm-up and how he felt going in. I felt a little tension creeping in through the ride, but overall, I love my horse and everyone who has helped me get here, but truthfully, disappointed in the score,” said Hart. “We’re going to stick with the same game plan and try to carry on. We’re going to add a bit more power to keep him in front of me more in the test, but the thought process is going to stay the same and we’ll move forward.”
Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline commented on the team’s performances so far and what he expects for the start of tomorrow’s team competition, which will commence the hunt for a team podium position at the end of Sunday’s competition.
“Roxie and Dolton have definitely delivered. She’s done as well here as ever before and the scores are very similar to before this competition, which is fabulous. In this context, the judging is stricter, and the judges are very focused and stricter on the marks,” said Assouline. “We know our riders have the ability to score higher. We know that there is the ability for improvement, and we have the chance to still up our game tomorrow with the team competition.”
Competition for team medals will begin tomorrow with Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton, Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel, and Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 selected as the three combinations to represent the U.S. Para Dressage Team in team competition. Grade I, II, III competition will take place on August 28, with Grade IV and V competition concluding with the podium presentation on Sunday, August 29. Ride times will be released on the morning of August 29th.