Ireland will have a Dressage team in the Olympics for the first time in history

Ireland will have a Dressage team in the Olympics for the first time in history
Anna Merveldt, Judy Reynolds, Heike Holstein and Kate Dwyer after qualifying for the Olympics today.

The Irish Dressage team have qualified for an Olympic Games for the first time ever.

The final Irish rider Kildare's Judy Reynolds, onboard Vancouver K, scored a new National Grand Prix record earlier at the European Championships in Rotterdam.

It means the Irish team will take part in the event in the Tokyo Games next summer.

The European Championship team gold medal went to Germany. The home team from The Netherlands took silver while the bronze medal went to Sweden.

Reynolds, Anna Merveldt, Heike Holstein and Kate Dwyer finished on a final score of 213.540, to finish second of the eight teams who had been chasing one of the three tickets to Tokyo that were on offer at the final Olympic qualifier for European teams.

A top 10 finish individually for Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K in today’s competition means they have qualified for Thursday’s Grand Prix Special in Rotterdam.

Ireland were just outside the Olympic qualifying places when Reynolds delivered a stunning performance to set a new Irish record of 76.351 and guarantee Ireland a team place at the Olympics.

Speaking afterwards, record-breaker Judy Reynolds said: “I can’t believe we have actually done it. We talked about it two years ago and it was like ‘hey lets try and get a team to Tokyo’ and I was thinking in the back of my head that, this is not going to be all that feasible, because at the time we didn’t really have the back-up horses to do it.

"But it all came together, this year especially. Heike’s mare improved so much and Anna got the horse and improved it so much, from doing no Grand Prix to this. I was surprised myself that we have got to this level but wow, I can’t believe it.

"I had an absolutely amazing ride. JP [Vancouver K] was just fantastic today, he was really with me, he let me ride him and just did everything I could have asked of him, he was just super.”

Horse Sport Ireland Chairman, Judy’s father Joe Reynolds expressed his pride at the achievement.

He said: “I am so proud of all our riders for what they have achieved on this historic day for Irish Dressage and for Horse Sport Ireland. This was a real team effort from everyone involved in the team and backroom staff.

"This didn’t happen by accident, there was huge planning and effort to make this happen down to the finest details.

"For many years Dressage was probably overshadowed in Ireland by the other disciplines but today is a new chapter and we now look forward to planning for the Olympic Games.

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