By US Equestrian Communications Department
Tokyo, Japan – Sabine Schut-Kery (Napa, Calif.) and Sanceo, a 15-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Alice Womble, were the first U.S. combination to ride down the centerline at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Equestrian Park, completing their FEI Grand Prix Test as part of Group C on the first day of competition. Schut-Kery and Sanceo received a 78.416 percent from the ground jury, a personal best in FEI competition, placing the U.S. in a strong position looking ahead to the second day of competition. Fourteen teams are vying to finish in the top eight at the conclusion of tomorrow’s competition in order to qualify for the FEI Grand Prix Special for Team Medals on Tuesday, July 27.
Schut-Kery has developed a strong partnership with Sanceo over the last 12 years, having acquired the stallion as a young three-year old from Europe and developing him herself up through the international levels. This is the pair’s first Olympic Games, though they have competed in a championship environment before as part of the gold-medal winning team at the Pan American Games Toronto 2015.
“He’s always just so with me. It really feels like a partnership, absolutely. You go in there and he gives you that feeling like ‘I’ve got it,’ and then he also likes going into that venue. He definitely puffed up a little bit,” smiled Schut-Kery as she talked about her incredible Olympic debut. “The highlights to me, and it always feels amazing, was the piaffe and passage.”
The pair received strong marks from the Ground Jury, as Sanceo excels in his piaffe and passage movements, which were rewarded by the juding panel. Schut-Kery and Sanceo automatically qualified for the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle for Individual Medals on Wednesday, July 28, as they secured second place in Group C behind Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera, who led the day with an 84.379 percent.
“Coming here, I think, you know, when you come as a team, you don’t ride for yourself anymore, so for me it was really important that I ride for my teammates and ride for my country, and that means all of you, for Christine, for Debbie, and for friends and fans.”
Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald was pleased with the test, which provided the team with a positive start with the two remaining pairs to come tomorrow. This is McDonald’s first Olympic Games as Chef d’Equipe, though she is familiar with the intensity of the Olympic Games having competed as an athlete in 2004 and 2008 and serving as the personal coach for athletes in previous years.
“I could not be happier or prouder of Sabine and Sanceo,” said Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald. “It was certainly a great way for our team to start this competition and it was truly just a beautiful test from both Sabine and Sanceo.”
The second day FEI Grand Prix competition continues tomorrow with the remaining two American combinations taking their turn in the arena at Equestrian Park, with Adrienne Lyle and Salvino competing as part of Group D and scheduled for 6:21 p.m. JST / 5:21 a.m. EDT, and Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper in Group F rounding out the competition with the second to last ride of the day at 9:42 p.m. JST / 8:42 a.m. EDT.