Victorian-born Simone Pearce has just been named as part of the Australian dressage team for the Tokyo Olympic Games with 14-year-old stallion Destano (Desperados FRH x Brentano II). It will be her first Olympic Games, a much-deserved accolade that comes on the back of more than a decade spent working her way to the top in Europe.
It’s no overnight success story; the young Aussie has earned her stripes working for some of the best in the business, and has now been based at Gestüt Sprehe, a performance horse stud owned by the father and uncle of German Olympian Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, since late 2018. Here, her talents have been rewarded and she’s been entrusted with numerous quality horses. There have been many milestones — both small and large — along the way that have led to this moment, but gaining an Olympic berth certainly tops them all.
“I’m so excited to make my first Olympics; I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little three-year-old girl at Pony Club. To be here now, it really is a dream come true. I feel like if I can do it, anyone can do it,” says Simone, who not only made the team with Destano, but actually had two other horses qualified for selection.
Humble as always, Simone is quick to thank everyone who has supported her along the way, from her parents, to her long-time groom and fellow Australian Emily Reudavey, the team at Gestüt Sprehe, and her trainer Oliver Oelreich.
“Also, an unbelievably huge thank you must go to Sabine Rueben, says Simone. “She is a massive part of how I’m in this position today. For the last 10 years she has guided my career and opened doors for me and believed in me right from the very beginning when no one else did; I’m externally grateful and so proud to ride for you!
“Last but certainly not least, I want to thank my amazing horses for making my dreams come true! To have three horses qualified for the Olympics is a fairy tale. Amandori, Double Joy and my big love Destano, thank you… it’s all because of you!”
THIRD AUSTRALIAN RECORD
Simone’s selection follows her record-breaking performance with Destano in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Pilisjászfalu CDI-W in Hungary, where she scored 81.385% to claim a third Australian record. The pair now hold the Australian record in the Grand Prix with 76.261%, the Special with 77.894%, and now the Freestyle. The latter was previously held by Olympian Mary Hanna and her mare Calanta, with the pair scoring 80.145%, at Willinga Park Dressage by the Sea last year.
When Simone completed her final halt with Destano, she felt it was the best Freestyle test they had done — and when an Australian record score flashed across the board, that feeling was confirmed. “I was very, very happy of course when I saw that the score was over 80%. You never know how it translates, but my feeling in the test was really nice and he felt like he was 100% with me,” says Simone.
“It was actually the first time I’d ridden that test together with the music. It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking when you haven’t ridden it at a show before, but even more so when you haven’t practised it at home before!” reveals Simone. “I’d ridden it through with (Grand Prix stallion) Amandori and I knew how to ride it, but I was anxious to see how it would work with Destano.”
Simone says that the canter tour is a highlight of the new Freestyle. “I really love the canter tour. I think Destano has such an impressive and amazing canter, and you can really go from movement to movement in this test. I think I have seven or eight movements in a row, directly from movement to movement, and that’s really fun to ride and I think it looks really impressive.”