Rio de Janeiro – August 12, 2016 – Allison Brock, Laura Graves, Kasey Perry-Glass and Steffen Peters put the United States dressage team back on the Olympic podium with a bronze medal finish at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
This is the first medal for U.S. dressage since the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the U.S. team of Lisa Wilcox on Relevant, Guenter Seidel on Aragon, Debbie McDonald on Brentina, and Robert Dover on Kennedy won the bronze. Dover is the chef d’equipe in Rio, and McDonald is on the scene as well, coaching her students Graves and Perry-Glass.
“We knew we had a chance, but when it actually happened, it was pretty amazing,” Peters said. “If you wanted to see a 52-year-old guy acting like a 10-year-old boy, you should have seen me in the stands when Laura was coming down centerline. I was crying my eyes out. It was just one of those absolutely amazing experiences.”
The U.S. team entered the day holding a narrow lead over the Dutch. Accurate riding by Brock and a very steady effort by her horse Rosevelt, with highlights in the extensions across all three gaits, earned the pair a 73.824 percent as the first down the centerline in the afternoon team rotation.
“I was really happy with him,” Brock said. “He was really good, better than the Grand Prix, and a clean test. It was what we needed to do to set the stage for the rest of my teammates.”
Next up for the U.S., Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet, had trouble early on with a costly break to canter in the first extended trot. They rebounded from there, with their top-notch passage and excellent tempi changes boosting their score, and they finished on a mark of 73.235 percent.
Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 also had uncharacteristic bobbles, breaking at the start of the left trot half-pass and working through a sticky moment going into piaffe. Like Perry-Glass, however, Peters kept his head in the game and capitalized on his horse’s strengths in other parts of the test. A fantastic final centerline helped them complete the test with a score of 74.622 percent, just above the average the team needed to maintain in the Special to secure bronze
“We had a couple different fumbles; he lost his balance in the left half pass,” Peters said. “We had a delayed reaction into the piaffe, but he did it beautifully. The rest of the test was very clean. He did his changes very nicely. I’m super happy with Legolas. We delivered for the team; that was my goal.”
Laura Graves had huge pressure on her shoulders as the anchor rider for the U.S., with the team sitting just fractions of a percent behind the Netherlands before her ride. She and Verdades turned in a personal best score of 80.644 percent to seal the deal and ensure the bronze medal for their country, as well as fifth place individually.
“The elusive 80 percent! We captured it… it exists!” Graves said with a laugh. “I knew it was going well. You just always hope that your reflections match up with the judges’. To see my teammates so happy and to have a personal best with a score I’m been reaching for – it was the icing on our cake today.”
With the team competition complete, the focus shifts to Monday’s individual final, the Grand Prix Freestyle. The top 18 combinations in the Special qualify, but since there is a limit of three riders per country in the Freestyle, giving Brock, who finished 19th in the Special, a berth in the Freestyle alongside Graves and Peters.