Relaxed Judy Reynolds sets sights on place in Monday’s decider

Ireland’s sole dressage competitor Judy Reynolds opens her Olympic challenge this morning upbeat and with the attitude “anything can happen”.

The German-based Kildare rider is ranked 25th in the world, but has made a habit in the past year of setting Irish record scores with the 14-year-old brown gelding Vancouver K, owned by her parents Joe and Kathleen.

The 35-year-old said she is concentrating on one day at a time, but she hopes that will include Monday, when the top 18 from the 60 starters will contest the individual medals.

“We’re focusing on the first day of competition on Thursday to ensure qualification to the second round, and we’ll see how things progress then,” said Reynolds.

“My achievable goal is to make it into the final on Monday, with my stretch target being a top-10 finish. Anything can happen though!”

Yesterday saw the first tranche of 30 riders line out in the grand prix, with Germany in the vanguard: Dorothee Schneider (Showtime FRH) and Sonke Rothenberger (Cosmo) hold the top two places on 80.986% and 77.329%, respectively. Britain’s Fiona Bigwood (Orthilia) lies third on 77.157%, giving the defending champions a good start.

The top 32 at the close of competition today will go forward to tomorrow’s grand prix special, with the top 18 progressing to Monday’s individual medal decider, the grand prix freestyle.

There was a shock yesterday when the first Dutch team member, Adelinde Cornelissen, retired after just a handful of movements.

She told Horse & Hound magazine that her 19-year-old gelding Parzival — winner of individual silver and team bronze at London 2012 — had been running a fever after being bitten by something on the face.

“Yesterday I came to the stables and his cheek was completely swollen and it appeared he was bitten by a spider or a mosquito or something,” said Adelinde. “His body was full of toxic fever [with a fever of] over 40.”

Meanwhile, following his ninth place finish on Tuesday, eventer Jonty Evans reiterated he is confident he can win a championship medal with Cooley Rorkes Drift.

The 10-year-old gelding jumped clear over a cross-country track rated one of the most difficult ever at an Olympics. Then the mount became one of only four to produce a double clear in the show jumping phase.

“I’m delighted with the horse, I always felt he had this in him, but to prove it is something else entirely. The support I have had from all quarters has blown me away.

“I could not have produced him in the way I have been able to without the help and support of Nick Turner the coaches he employs and the support via the Irish squad. I also owe a huge debt to my trainers at home, Ros Morgan and Gareth Hughes, as well as my wife, family and staff. I can’t wait for the next championship with this horse. I believe we can bring a medal back,” said the 44-year-old.

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