FOR the first time the history of the Olympic Games, Ireland will have a Dressage team at Tokyo 2020 after the 'Girls In Green' secured Olympic qualification today (Tuesday) after a stunning performance at the Longines FEI European Championships which are taking place at Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The Irish team of Anna Merveldt, Judy Reynolds, Heike Holstein and Kate Dwyer finished on a final score of 213.540 in seventh place, and second of the eight teams who had been chasing one of the three tickets to Tokyo.
Ireland were just outside the Olympic qualifying places when Kildare's Judy Reynolds entered the arena as last to go with her horse Vancouver K.
Under huge pressure, Reynolds delivered a stunning performance to set a new Irish record of 76.351% which guaranteed Ireland a team place at the Olympic Games for the first time ever.
Earlier in the day, Olympian Anna Merveldt scored 67.717% aboard Esorim, and on Monday Kate Dwyer (Snowdon Faberge) and Heike Holstein (Sambuca) got the team started with scores of 66.180% and 69.472%, respectively.
The gold medal went to Germany, ahead of The Netherlands in silver and Sweden claimed bronze.
Judy Reynolds finished in 10th place individually which sees her safely through to Thursday's Grand Prix special, where the first of the individual medals will be decided.
Speaking to Horse Sport Ireland afterwards, Reynolds said: “I can’t believe we have actually done it. It has all come together [for the team] in the last year. I’ve surprised myself that we have gotten to this place, wow, can’t believe it.
“I had an amazing ride. JP was fantastic, he was really with me and did everything I asked of him,” she added.
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman and Judy’s father, Joe Reynolds, commented: “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."
CEO Ronan Murphy added: "A special word of thanks to our Dressage chef d’equipe Milan Djordjevic and to team trainer Johann Hinnemann. Ireland now has qualified a full team in Eventing and Dressage for Tokyo and we keep our fingers crossed for our Show Jumping team in their qualification quest here in Rotterdam over the coming days.”
Extensive coverage on the European Championship in Saturday's paper
Anna Merveldt and Esporim at the European Championships in Rotterdam \ Tomas Holcbecher