Riders Travel World to Qualify for 2016 Olympics

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Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon at the European Championships in 2015. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon at the European Championships in 2015. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Jan. 7, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Riders are moving around the world seeking to qualify as individuals or to win a spot on their national teams at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

The latest International Equestrian Federation Olympic rankings to the end of 2015 released Thursday showed little movement at the top of the seven geographic groups with 27 CDIs remaining as qualifiers in 13 countries before the Mar. 6 deadline.

The top of the leaderboards in the different geographic groups have seen only minor changes in the past several months since championships and special events led to direct allocation of teams from Brazil as the host, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Australia, United States, Spain, Sweden, France and Japan.

Individuals can qualify to bring the total number of starting combinations in Rio to 60–10 more than the last Olympics in London. The time for riders to attain minimum eligibility scores of 64 per cent under certain conditions has several more months to run.

The current rankings show that Denmark will almost certainly win a place for a so-called “composite” team made up of at least three individual combinations. Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon, Mikala Münter Gundersen on My Lady, Agnete Kirk Thinggaard on Jojo AZ lead their group.

Daniel Bachmann Andersen on Bue Hors Loxana is in the fifth spot behind Judy Reynolds of Irelandon Vancouver K while the Florida-based Danish Olympian Lars Petersen on Mariett is in sixth with two months of the Wellington winter circuit ahead of the pair.

Thirteen of the qualifiers are in Western Europe from Norway in the north to Italy in the south but Belgium has three qualifiers the last week of the lineup. Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Qatar and Russia are staging qualifiers.

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida has the greatest concentration of qualifiers with seven while there are two in Southern California.

Four-time Austrian Olympian Victoria Max-Theurer on Blind Date maintained the lead in her group while Valentina Truppa on Quixote Eremo del Castegna, the leading Italian combination for the past several years, moved up to second place ahead of Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj on Smeyer’s Molberg.

Russia’s Inessa Merkulova on Mister X kept her overall lead in both the open global rankings and for Central Europe while Ukraine’s Inna Logutenkova on Don Gregorius was in second.

Canadian riders make up all but one contender on the North American group to earn a second place after Belinda Trussell on Anton qualified at the Pan American Games.

One of the closest competitions could be in the South American group led by Yvonne Losos de Muñiz on Foco Loco who is in Wellington seeking to consolidate her place after she was denied a spot in a controversial judging issue at Brazilian shows that led to a Brazilian rider winning a place.

Lara Griffith and Rubin Al Asad. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lara Griffith and Rubin Al Asad. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Christian Zimmermann, the German who rides Cinco de Mayo for Palestine, has made tentative plans to move to Wellington for about a month to keep his top spot in front of Nicole Smith of South Africa on Victoria in the African group.

The Philippines’ Ellesse Tzinberg on Pavarotti is also in Wellington for the first time.

Kelly Layne on Udon P, the fifth ranked Australian in the world and based in Wellington, also hopes to earn a start at the European selection events for her nation’s team.

United States riders will be looking to make the squad of up to eight riders to go to Europe for the selection of the team of four combinations to go to Rio.

Great Britain’s Olympic team gold and individual bronze medalist Laura Tomlinson on Unique and her assistant, Lara Griffith on Rubin Al Asad, are returning to Wellington for the second year planning to earn scores to put them on the Olympic gold medal defending championship team.

The Spanish federation dealt a blow to the Florida-based Juan Matute by refusing to accept any scores from competing Don Diego Ymas in Wellington and insists the 19-year-old son of multi-Olympian Juan Matute, Sr. has to compete in Europe to be considered. Juan on Dhannie Ymas won the European Championships Junior individual gold medal in 2015.

The reported reason was that that scores in Wellington do not compare with those in Europe. That is true but the opposite of what the Spanish federation states. In five senior Grand Prix in Wellington in the winter of 2015, the highest score was 67.200 per cent and the average was 66.068 per cent. In their sole senior Grand Prix in Europe the pair scored 68.240 per cent in Madrid in May.