Spanish Olympian Morgan Barbançon, Sister Alexandra Switch to Ride for France
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April 23, 2018
Morgan Barbançon Mestre, a leading Spanish rider who competed for her country at the London Olympics when 19 years old, and her sister Alexandra who competes in the Under-25 division, are now riding for France, effective immediately.
Morgan, now 25 years old, is the third highest ranked Spanish rider at No. 55 in the world on Sir Donnerhall II OLD and becomes the highest placed combination for France less than five months ahead of the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.
Alexandra, 22 years old, and Bolero are the 13th ranked Under-25 combination in the world, with only Juan Matute, Jr., the Florida-based rider for Spain, ahead of her at No. 7 on Don Diego Ymas.
The switch to France by Morgan and Alexandra is the latest blow to the Spanish federation, especially the dressage division, that was under fire over questionable selection procedures for the 2017 World Young Horse Championships that has led to an overhaul of the system as well as a recently filed lawsuit alleging “financial irregularities” by top officials of the Spanish federation.
The suit named Luis Lucio Pérez, head of the dressage department and one of six members of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee. His FEI term ends late this year.
The team coach for France is Jean Bemelmans, who formerly held the same position with Spain.
The sport nationality change has already taken effect for Morgan who is now identified on the official FEI site as competing for France, but Alexandra was listed as of Monday as still riding for Spain.
Morgan competed in the European Pony Championships in 2007 and in the Europeans for Juniors in 2009 and 2010. She was selected for the Spanish squad for London on Painted Black, a horse trained and competed by Anky van Grunsven before Morgan took over the ride. The duo also rode for Spain at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
The pair also competed in the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2015 and Morgan’s last competition on Painted Black was at the 2015 European Championships.
She rode Sir Donnerhall at the World Cup Final in Paris earlier this month.
Alexandra competed for Spain at the 2008 and 2009 European Pony Championships and in the European Junior Championships for the next three years.
In an interview with the French media outlet L’Eperon, Morgan said she rode for Spain as her mother is Spanish.
However, her upbringing was mostly French and she lived for many years in Pairs.
She lives in the Netherlands now and decided against travel to the Spanish championships that are a requirement to qualify for teams. Her last Spanish team competition was the 2015 Europeans so she fulfills the need for a two-year waiting period from the last team championship before a switch can take effect. The World Cup is an individual competition.