Aussie Rachael Sanna Prepares for European Campaign

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Rachael Sanna and Jaybee Alabaster. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

When Australian Rachael Sanna takes Jaybee Alabaster to the World Cup Final in The Netherlands in April, she will be taking most of her household with her rather than trying to juggle horses and family from opposite ends of the globe.

Rachael, 39, has been in the top tier of Australian dressage for 15 years with a lineup of horses including Charisma, Aphrodite and Chatham Park Jac.

Not only will she compete at her second World Cup Final–the first was with Charisma in Dortmund, Germany in 1999–she is looking to represent Australia at an Olympics for the second time, the first being at her hometown Games in Sydney in 2000. She has also competed in the last three World Equestrian Games at Jerez, Spain, Aachen, Germany and Lexington, Kentucky.

And she believes she can coax more from the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Alabaster x Gloria x Glorieux) that she rode to victory in the Pacific League World Cup Final in December with personal best scores for the pair in both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.

Bev Edward, the owner of Alabaster, said: “I bought his mother in Germany from the Schockemöhles when she was in foal with him. He was born at our place in Australia.

”This has been Alabaster’s very best year and we look forward to 2012 with great excitement.”

Like most countries that have qualified a team for London, competition for the four positions on the Australian squad will be intense from combinations Down Under as well as in Europe and the United States.

In addition to Rachael and Alabaster, Kentucky WEG team mates Hayley Beresford and Lyndal Oatley have been joined in Europe by veteran Mary Hanna to campaign there while 2006 WEG rider Kelly Layne is based in Florida with its winter schedule of 11 CDIs.

Rachael, who is based in the Sydney area, said she plans to leave for Europe at the end of February with her two children, Romany, 8 1/2, and Darcy, 7, Her mother, Nerida Downs, will help out with the children while Rachael is busy with her horses. The World Cup Final is in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, April 18-22.

“The children love coming on the overseas trips and learn so much from their experiences,” she told dressage-news.com. “I wouldn’t know how to campaign without my children with me.”

Despite the difficulty of earning a living while campaigning in Europe for several months–Olympic dressage competition is scheduled for Aug. 5-13–she is optimistic about a “really exciting time ahead.”

Although Rachael has competed Alabaster at international level Grand Prix since mid-2008, the past two years has seen him “gradually become more confident with Grand Prix and stronger. With much help from my coach Clemens Dierks (with whom she has trained for almost a quarter century) I have learned how to compete and train Jaybee Alabaster.

“There is still more improvement to be made and I am really looking forward to seeing how much more we can make as a combination.

“He is definitely the most expressive since Charisma who competed at the 1999 World Cup. I believe Jaybee Alabaster is an international competitve horse.

“As a gelding, I believe Jaybee Alabaster has now matured into a super Grand Prix horse. There is more in us yet as a combination and I am hoping that with some time in Europe we can tap into another couple of percent in scores.

“I really hope I can ride well to show him at his best.

“It is an honor to represent Australia. I feel that every opportunity is special and that, as a rider, I will do my utmost to perform to the best of my ability wearing the Autralian flag.”