Ireland, USA Get Individual Dressage Starts in Olympics

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Olympic bound? Anna Merveldt and Coryolano. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Ireland and the United States clinched individual places in the dressage competition at the Olympics in London next month when only a single combination from Colombia received their first minimum eligibility score Saturday with only a week to go to the qualifying deadline.

Ireland has no team so an individual would be the sole dressage entry from the Emeald Isle, most likely to be Anna Merveldt and Coryolano. The pair competed this weekend at the Manfred Swarovski Gedächtnis Turnier CDI4* at Fritzens-Schndlhof in Austria. Anna, who is based in Italy, competed for Ireland in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The United States has qualified a team of three horses and riders and with an individual would join host Great Britain, Germany and The Netherlands with the right to send four combincations to the Games which open on July 27.

The U.S. Olympic selection trials are being held this weekend and next in New Jersey.

So instead of competing for two places on the team to join Steffen Peters and Ravel who were excused from the trials because of their competition record, the contenders now appear to have three places to fill.

Olympic dressage at historic Greenwich Park with a view of the London skyline begins Aug. 2 with the two-day Grand Prix and the Olympic Grand Prix Special on Aug. 5 that will decide the team medals.

The individual places opened up when Colombia, which had qualified a team of three when the nation won the bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, last October, was unable to have enough combinations earn the minimum eligibility scores. The Pan Ams were at small tour, the Olympics at Big Tour.

Four Colombian combinations attempted to obtain the required qualifying scores with a campaign at several shows in Europe over the past two months.

Until this weekend, none of them had attained a single 64 per cent minimum.

Two of the combinations–Constanza Jaramillo and the Ulla Salzgeber-trained Wakana and Raul Corchuelo and Gusarapo–did not compete this weekend and as they have no minimum qualifying results even competing next week would not enable them to meet the requirements.

At the Fritzens competition Saturday, Maria Ines Garcia and Kupfermann received a score of 64.511 per cent, the first of two minimum eligibility results of 64 per cent at CDI3* or higher rated events by the June 17 deadline. She is entered at Lipica, Slovenia, next week to make the deadline to earn her second minimum score.

Marco Bernal, based in Wellington, Florida, and Akzentus, scored 57.511 per cent at the Fritzens show so even if the pair compete at Lipica next week a qualifying score would not meet the minimum requirement of two scores.

New Zealand has already given up one of its three team places that led to Poland receiving a third individual spot and allows them to field a team in London, the first time since the Cold War.

Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello have met both Olympic and New Zealand Olympic Committee requirements but a second combination, Vanessa Way and KH Arvan, have met the minimum Olympic requirements but not yet fulfilled higher requirements imposed by the N.Z. Olympic Committee. The pair are based in England and are entered at the Hartpury, England, CDI3* the first week of July to attempt to fulfill her national requirements.