At Achleiten CDI4*, Simone Pearce and Hanoverian stallion Destano set Australian CDI records in the Grand Prix and Special, launching them into serious contention for the Tokyo Olympics next year. To some it may seem that Simone has made a sudden leap to the elite level, but the truth is her recent achievements on the world stage are anything but an overnight success story.
Simone has been based in Europe for the better part of a decade, training with and working alongside some of the world’s best — and success has come in various forms during that time. “Nothing really feels surreal to me because it has not been something that has happened overnight. I feel like I’ve been working my way up for such a long time; I’ve been living in Europe for over 10 years now, and I’ve been working really, really hard to make my way up the ranks. It’s been a very slow and continuous process,” explains Simone.
Based in Germany at Gestüt Sprehe since late 2018, Simone previously spent close to four years at Helgstrand Dressage in the far north of Denmark. She had success with their horses at a number of FEI World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses, in addition to Grand Prix success with horses Wladimir OA and Scolari.
“I’ve been working for a really long time and I feel like I’ve been achieving goals along the way. Last year I was winning my first international CDI4* (with Scolari 4 at Achleiten CDI4*), and the year before that I was placing in my first international CDI4*, and before that I won at the FEI World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses (Simone won the Preliminary Test for six-year-olds with Feodoro in 2017 with 9.02, and has enjoyed high placings each year at this event since). So there have been lots of little milestones along the way that have led to this point.”
Moving to Gestüt Sprehe, a performance horse stud owned by the father and uncle of German Olympian Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, Simone started with a new stable of horses. Having had extensive experience working with stallions and young horses previously, Simone now rides a number of Sprehe’s breeding stallions, as well as their youngsters — 15 in total! One of those stallions is Destano, a 13-year-old by the late Desperados, Kristina’s Olympic gold medal-winning stallion who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year.
Bred and owned by Gestüt Sprehe, Destano made his international Grand Prix debut in June 2019 under Swede Michelle Hagman-Hassink. Hagman and Destano had competed at CDIs with upper 60 and lower 70 percentage scores. At the end of 2019, it was decided that Destano would move back to the stud — with Simone gaining the ride. In January this year, the horse’s ownership was changed so that Simone is listed as a part-owner, meaning Destano is eligible to represent Australia at a World Championship or Olympic Games.
When Equestrian Life spoke to Simone in January, she had been riding Destano for two or three weeks and explained that the Olympics were a “distant dream”, with her main focus being to build a positive partnership with the horse. “No matter how the season unravels I’m so grateful for the chance to work with such an amazing horse!” she said at the time. Well, six months down the track the Tokyo Olympic Games have been pushed back a year and Simone has two Australian record scores to her name…