Olympic options falling into place for Annabelle Collins
Annabelle Collins enjoyed a perfect first grand-prix outing on board Chuppy Checker to move a step closer to having another horse eligible for selection for the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
Having already qualified for the Games — scheduled for July 23 to August 8 — on mount Joyero VG, by previously claiming one of the region's four spots up for grabs, the Bermudian dressage rider is aiming to qualify two further horses.
To do so, Collins, who as well as her own mare Wonder has been given Chuppy as a third option by Rob van Puijenbroek, needs to achieve the required benchmark of scoring at least 66 per cent from all judges in two different events as well as from one Olympic judge.
Last weekend, the 46-year-old moved a step closer to doing just that after scoring an impressive 68.196 per cent on board Chuppy competing in their first grand-prix event in the village of Camarma de Esteruelas, north-east of Madrid, Spain.
“I am absolutely thrilled to get the first score for the Olympics on my new horse Chuppy Checker,” Collins said. “I have only had him a short time, so it's not always easy to gel together in the arena so soon, but he was just amazing in the grand prix in Madrid.
“He has so much class and I am over the moon to have the ride on him. The previous owners are very close friends of mine and they offered me the option to take him on to try to qualify for Tokyo, and so it just all seemed meant to be.
“He has a lot of temperament and can be quite sensitive at times, so sitting very quiet with small aids is very important with him. It all paid off in the grand prix.”
The encouraging early success with Chuppy also comes at a particularly welcome time for Collins, with her other Olympic mount, Joyero, recovering from injury.
“My other horse, Joyero, who helped me to achieve the Olympic spot for Bermuda is in recovery at the moment,” she added. “His injury needs a slow recuperation period, so I am delighted that I have been able to try to get there on another ride, Chuppy Checker, and give Joyero all the time he needs to come back into form.”
Having secured one of the two required scores, Collins is now planning on building on the momentum of their impressive maiden outing with a trip to compete in Portugal in two weeks’ time.
“My next plan is to go to Portugal in two weeks to try to get the second minimum eligibility score,” she said. “I hope it goes well and then Chuppy can have a little break before getting him ready for the Games.”
While a lot of uncertainty remains around the Olympics, owing to the continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Collins, who will become only the second Bermudian to compete in dressage at the Games after Suzanne Dunkley, who represented the island in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996, remains excited about the prospect of fulfilling a lifelong dream.
“Of course, there are still big concerns about whether the Games will still go on, but we have to prepare as if they will and be ready and qualified to go,” she said.
“It may not be the same Olympics as hosted normally, with no public and less atmosphere, but I will still be excited to go and represent Bermuda, as it will nevertheless be my childhood dream come true.”