Australia Rejects Riders’ Requests for Team at Florida Nations Cup

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The 2016 Nations Cup teams in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDIO3* in Wellington. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 8, 2017–The Australian equestrian federation has refused to allow its riders to form a team to compete at the CDIO3* Nations Cup at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival that kicks off the second year of the official trans-Atlantic series.

The decision came after three Australian riders based in the United States sought to form a team as they have in previous years in the only Nations Cup outside Europe.

Thomas Baur,  Sports Director of the Global festival, sent an invitation directly to Equestrian Australia to join Canada, Germany and Spain in participating. The United States has already named a team of four and a reserve.

The decision not to participate in the Mar. 22-26 event was made by the federation and its dressage committee, chaired by Mary Seefried, FEI 5* judge who is scheduled to be on the ground jury for the Wellington CDI4* next week.

“The Australian Dressage Committee and Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Program, have a criteria for combinations which must be met in order for a team to be endorsed for a CDIO  and on this occasion, this criteria has not been met.” wrote Sara Latham, who gave her title as Sport Consultant-High Performance in a followup to Mary Seefried’s initial response.

.”As Australia cannot be represented as a team, Equestrian Australia would like to request two riders to compete individually in the CDIO3*. We would like to request one rider to be a part of the big tour and the second rider to be a part of the small tour.”

In a second response, Sara Latham said, “Unfortunately at this stage we do not have sufficient combinations which fulfil our national selection criteria and we do not wish to enter a team that could not perform at the high expectations of your event.”

She did not specify the criteria but dropped the request to one Big Tour slot.

A minimum of three and a maximum of four combinations–a mix of Big Tour and Small Tour horses–can make up a  team at the Wellington Nations Cup which in 2013 was the first to be staged outside Europe.

The Australian riders, as in past years of its participation, would have paid all their own costs of stabling, entry fees and travel so there would be no cost to the federation.

The Australian federation did not respond to questions by dressage-news.com about the decision.

Australian dressage is undergoing re-evaluation after the teams at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were mired in controversy.

Nations Cups, however, are seen as central to development of team spirit and for countries to show their flags in events where team is placed ahead of individual goals.

The event in Wellington has grown from a small number of teams and squads of a mix of countries in 2013. Florida was the only Nations Cup Australia competed in for 2015 while Australian teams participated at Florida and two European events in 2016, an Olympic year.