Laura Graves and Diddy carry the U.S. to team bronze

The fate of the U.S. dressage team fell into the hands of Laura Graves and Diddy in Friday’s Grand Prix Special as she became the team’s last chance at trumping the Dutch in a nail-biting battle for the bronze title.

As if the duo’s story hasn’t been impressive enough, the former hairstylist delivers an immaculate performance that not only solidifies Team USA’s stamp on the bronze title, but lands her the No. 5 spot on the individual leaderboard. Graves and Diddy’s harmonic performance allows them to become one of five horse and rider combinations to score above an 80 on their dressage performance.

The team entered the Grand Prix Special holding the bronze position over the Dutch by a less then one percent. The Dutch battled back Friday morning morning earning a 74.991 average,  which they were able to hold over the U.S. until Laura Graves and Diddy brought the team’s 73.984 average to a 76.393 average to claim bronze vicotry. 

Allison Brock and former Olympic veteran Steffen Peters deliver rock solid performances, displaying high piaffe passage marks and solid canter work to keep team USA in reach of the bronze position. Kasey Perry-Glass’s score of 73.235 fell short of the 74 mark she needed to solidify bronze. The team would have to rely on their anchor Graves to deliver a clutch performance in order tp surpass the Dutch in the bronze race.

Graves dreams standing on an Olympic podium have finally come true, but will she be able to add an individual medal to her collection in her debut?  In order to compete with the Boring-Sprehe, Schneider, Werth, and Dujardin, she will have to deliver the best performance of her life in the Freestyle Final.  Brock and Peters will join Graves in the fight for an individual title.

Germany adds a 12th golden title to their collection, humbling the defending champions Great Britain in the Grand Prix Special with an 81.936 average score.

Germany came to Rio hungry to take back what had rightfully been theirs for six consecutive Games, the gold medal. Great Britain stole Germany’s thunder in London’s 2012 Games with a fairytale ending in their home court and Germany refused to accept defeat in Rio.

The team displayed pure dominance from the start, claiming multiple top five spots on the individual leaderboard each round. Kristina Boring-Sprehe , Dorothee Schneider and “ Dressage Queen” Isabel Werth set the bar high for other teams early on with impeccable performances in the Grand Prix claiming the No.2 , No. 3 and No. 4 spots on the leaderboard. The riders continued to bring the heat id Friday’s Grand Prix special, each delivering performances 80 once again. This time Isabel Werth would top Great Britain’s protégée and reigning gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin.

All of the German rider’s individual scores qualify for the Freestyle round, but only three members per team are eligible to compete. Werth, Schneider and Broring-Sphere will battle against Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Graves for an individual title.

London’s champions, Great Britain’s dreams of bringing home a second gold title come to an end after a tough day in the Grand Prix Special.  The team had little room for error if they wanted to stand a chance at defeating the prevailing Germans.  Unfortunately Wilton Spencer and Fiona Bigwood struggled to execute their piaffes and accumulated errors in their performance, dropping the team average to a 78.596. Charlotte Durjardin wows the judges once again with her incredible canter work, collected walk and transitions earning the No. 2 spot on the leaderboard. Her 82.983 performance in the Grand Prix Special helped the team bring home silver, their second Olympic team dressage title ever.