Poland Confirmed as Olympic Dressage Team, No New Zealand Team

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Poland's Katarzyna Milczarek and Ekwador. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Poland has been confirmed as a team for dressage at the Olympics, made up of three individuals who qualified to become a “composite” squad for the first Olympic team appearance since the height of the Cold War in 1980.

The three places for Poland were confirmed when New Zealand advised the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that although it had qualified a team for the London Games less than two months away, only two horses and riders could be nominated. This meant that the next combination in reserve, Poland, moved up.

Poland joins 10 other teams–host Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States in the dressage competition that starts Aug. 2 with the Grand Prix then followed by the Olympic Grand Prix Special to determine the Nations Cup medals.

Although the Polish federation has not named athletes and horses, the highest ranked combinations are:

— Katarzyna Milczarek, 47, and Ekwador, ranked 24th in the world. Ekwador is a 12-year-old SP gray stallion (Heraldik XX x Enigma x Corofino). The pair have competed at Grand Prix since 2008 and among their championshps have been the World Equestrian Games in 2010, World Cup Finals in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the Europeans in 2009 and 2011.

— Beata Stremler, aged 27, and Martini, ranked 39th. Martini is an 11-year-old WLKP gelding (Deryl SP x Mazda SP x Madryt). The pair competed at the 2011 European Championships and other major shows.

— Michal Rapcewicz, 30, and Randon, ranked 51st. Michal and the 15-year-old SP gelding (Czuwaj SP x Rafa SP x Fanimo) have been the pathfinder combination for Polish dressage beginning with the World Equestrian Games in 2006 and then again in 2010, the Olympics in 2008, World Cup Finals in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, as well as European Championships in 2009 and 2011 and Grand Prix throughout Europe and in the United States.

Michal Rapcewicz and Randon. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Poland was one of four teams at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow which were boycotted by most Western nations to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

With the third Polish rider moving up from the reserve list, next in line is Ireland which would be the sole competitor from that nation and then the United States which would join Great Britain, Germany and The Netherlands with both a three-member team and an individual. Austria, which has qualified one individual is next, followed by Denmark which has qualified a team.

The cutoff date for acquiring two minimum qualifying scores of 64 per cent in the Grand Prix is June 17.

With three weeks to go, no Colombian combination has yet received a qualifying score–four pairs are seeking to do so at Achleiten, Austria, this week, Fritzens, Austria, next week and Lipica, Slovakia, a week after. And one of two New Zealand combinations not yet to have fulfilled the minimum requirement of the N.Z. Olympic Committee is also entered at Achleiten.