Just two days after breaking her own Irish Grand Prix record score to help Ireland qualify a dressage team for the next Olympic games, Judy Reynolds smashed her Irish Grand Prix Special record to advance to the Freestyle final at the European Championships in Rotterdam yesterday evening.
With her 17-year-old gelding Vancouver K, the Kildare rider came out with a stunning score of 78.252% to eclipse the 75.784% she set two months ago at the Aachen festival in Germany.
Her latest performance gave her a fifth-place finish last night, the highest-ever placing by an Irish dressage rider at the championships. The Grand Prix Special was won by German favourite Isabell Werth on Bella Rose. Reynolds now progresses to the Freestyle final tomorrow.
There was little, however, for Ireland’s show jumpers to celebrate at the championships yesterday. While they did make the 10-team cut for today’s final, they have a mountain to climb if they are to have any hope of gaining either a medal or Olympic qualification.
The former seems close to impossible, being 17 faults off the bronze medal position, while they are 13 faults shy of claiming one of the three Olympic places on offer.
The Irish team struggled from the off yesterday with Cian O’Connor and PSG Final starting with 16 faults, followed by 12 from Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro. Peter Moloney kept the damage to one fence down with Chianti’s Champion, as did Darragh Kenny on Balou du Reventon.
The team finished in eighth position, two places down from the overnight position on Wednesday when they had held the third Olympic spot. Belgium moved into the gold medal position, while Germany hold second with Great Britain third.
Three of the Irish team are among the 50 who stay in contention for individual medals. Darragh Kenny holds 12th place on 5.78 faults, just over a fence off the bronze medal position, Peter Moloney is 19th on 8.75 faults, while Shane Sweetnam is 43rd on 15.83 faults. Great Britain’s Beh Maher leads the individual standings on 0.62.
The team final takes place this afternoon at 3pm. Para Dressage rider Rosemary Jean Gaffney finished 11th in yesterday’s Grade IV contest with a score of 66.098%. Tamsin Addison scored 68.738% to finish in eighth in the Grade V event.