Deauville, France – April 13, 2016 – Two-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart and Schroeter’s Romani hopped on a plane to Deauville, France, after a busy and successful winter season in Wellington, Florida. After helping Team USA qualify for the 2016 Paralympics, Hart and Romani left the Sunshine State and prepared to showcase their skills on the world stage. They proved that they will not be one to dismiss at the 2016 Paralympic Games, held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, showcasing their talents during The Deauville CPEDI3* (Concours Para-équestre de Dressage International) competition, and making a lasting impression on the European circuit.
“I couldn't have asked for a better result with Romani,” Hart smiled. “She came in strong for this competition. She was super in the all three tests. Winning the Individual, which is the first time I have ever won an individual championship in Europe, was a great way to start the season, and I hope to get to hear the national anthem again this year.”
Hart and Schroeter’s Romani (Grade II) competed at The Deauville CPEDI3* from April 7–10. Hart kicked off the competition by finishing second in the team test, scoring a 69.912 percent. Hart only came two points behind the Netherland’s Rixt Van Der Horst, the individual gold medalist from the 2014 World Equestrian Games, proving that she and Romani are ready for Rio.
The competition only got more exciting from there. On Friday, she competed with Romani in the individual test, besting the field of riders and coming out on top. Hart’s final score for the individual test was 71.371, coming back to beat the previous day’s forerunner.
In the final portion of competition, Hart and Romani earned themselves a third place spot in the freestyle. The pair finished with a score of 71.150, an impressive finish among the group of international riders, and a wonderful end to the three-day competition. Hart has been working on the choreography for the all-new freestyle for several months, only recently debuting in Wellington during the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. With a few minor adjustments the routine is becoming “Rio ready.” During the freestyle, Hart and Romani completed a walk pirouette; an unusual move that was deemed “disallowed” for the international competition, but proved useful in the finishing touches of the routine prior to nationals.
Hart acknowledged, “The freestyle was a great learning moment. She felt fabulous throughout the performance. We were in the mid 70's; we did our new freestyle with a full walk pirouette, which is an unusual element. We had to add some variety and make it different, which was why we chose it. We have used the choreography before, but it was discussed between the judges [in Deauville] and was deemed disallowed, which is a mandatory hit to the choreography score. It dropped our score to a 71.15 percent for third, but I am still thrilled with the result. We are re-working the choreography and it was great to learn this now, rather than at our nationals, or if we make the team in Rio.”
Hart is a two-time Paralympic competitor, but has fallen just shy of medaling both times. After an extremely successful winter season with countless wins under her belt, the Olympic gold medal is just within her reach. This competition in Deauville only solidified the fact that Hart and Romani are capable of contending with some of the world’s top para-dressage riders as the dynamic duo rides their way to Rio.
“I also have to thank my incredible team at Cherry Knoll Farm. Margaret Duprey enabled me to come on this European trip and I think it was an invaluable experience. Without her amazing support of not only me but the whole sport of U.S. Para-Dressage, I would not have Romani or be able to do this,” Hart said. “I also want to thank Todd Flettrich for his wonderful tutelage and guidance through this entire year. We have truly stepped up our game, and he has helped me to build the confidence and partnership with Romani, and it's showing in the results.”
Hart concluded, “I also have to thank my amazing grooms Hannah Hassinger and Fernando Ortega. They keep Romani at her best, both at home and on the road. They put in long, hard days and enable us to do our best when the pressure is on. Also to my amazing owners and supporters who believed in Romani and I from the start and put us on the road to Rio: Margaret Duprey, Bill and Sandy Kimmel, Barbara Summer and Brigitte Byrialsen. This is truly a team effort. Without these amazing people we wouldn't be here and sharing in these results!”