HGF's Grandioso, Daniel Martin Dockx and the Olympic Experience08.12.2012
The level of competition in the London 2012 Olympics was by all accounts the highest in the history of the sport, as was the level of spectatorship. The popularity of dressage is at an all-time high-- and the world's best athletes, both equine and human, were in London to put on an historic record-setting horse show.
Competition among the teams was extremely close, and standings were not determined until the very last minute. Great Britain won its first Team medal ever in the sport, no less than the Gold, removing the long-standing world champion Germans from the spot. Ten teams started the competition, seven moved on to the Grand Prix Special, with the final rankings within fractions of a point after the second test.
Grandioso and Daniel Martin Dockx were originally appointed Team Reserves following Aachen, but were moved into the starting line-up after the unfortunate last-minute withdrawal of Beatriz Ferrer-Salat's Delgado. Their job was to maintain the Team average so to allow Spain to move forward to the Special. Having competed at the international levels only since last December, the pair were by far the greenest and least known of the combinations that entered the arena at Greenwich Park, but they gave a clean and impressive test that showed many moments of quality and also room for improvement as they become more seasoned and stronger in the exercises. In an environment indescribably electric and intimidating, Daniel was focused and confident, and showed Grandioso in his very best light. Their score of 69.042 in the Grand Prix topped many more experienced pairs and gave the Spanish Team what they needed to progress to the next test.
The new Olympic Grand Prix Special proved to be a challenge for most of the field of 32 horses, with the majority of the pairs receiving lower marks than in the Grand Prix. Grandioso and Daniel were one of a very few who improved their marks, to 69.286, allowing them to be competitive in score with horses with prior world championship experience. At the conclusion of the Team Competition, Spain finished seventh, and in a virtual tie with veteran teams such as the United States and Sweden.
In the end, Daniel and Grandioso finished 29th out of the 50 top dressage horses in the world and now they will return to Malaga Spain for a much-deserved period of rest and renewal. Memories of leaving a quiet warm-up arena, taking a short path, rounding a corner and entering an arena with walls of 25,000 people rising up into the sky, hundreds of cameras and press personnel, the backdrop of the Maritime Museum and Queens House--as well as the other thousands of moments that made up the total London Olympic experience-- will live with all of us forever.
Photo Credits Bob Langrish