Lyndal Oatley’s Renewed Drive for Australia

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Lyndal Oatley and Potifar. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

When Lyndal Oatley rides Potifar into the arena to help Australia qualify a team for the Olympics next year, it will be with a renewed drive to achieve success at the top of the sport she loves.

Lyndal is working to develop her skills enough to make a difference on the next Australian team she rides on. Lyndal rode Potifar on the Australian team with Brett Parbery and Victory Salute, Rachel Sanna and Jaybee Alabaster and Hayley Beresford and Relampago at the Wold Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year

Now, with three-time Olympian Mary Hanna on Sancette she will compete as the second half of an Australian team in an unusual dual hemispheric selection process to become one of two teams to book a ticket to London next year. Because of the number of Australian and South African riders based in Europe, the second half of the selection procedure will be at Ermelo, The Netherlands.

Tthe first of the selection events was in Sydney last weekend in which Rachel on Jaybee Alabaster and Chantal Wigan on Ferero scored a total of 131.58 per cent while the three top scores of New Zealand were 194.77 per cent, meaning that one of the two Australian riders in Europe needs to score 63.19 per cent to win a berth in London.

The selection trial is three weeks after the first anniversary of Lyndal’s marriage to Swedish dressage star Patrik Kittel giving her an anchor in Europe while also maintaining strong ties to her family in Australia. Her cousin, Kristy, made the Oatley name synonymous with high performance dressage on the world stage competing at the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Olympics in her home country inspired Lyndal to make dressage her focus and lead her to Europe. She worked with Ulla Salzgeber, the coach of the Australian team leading up to the 2006 world championships in Aachen. Germany. After a few months back home to compete her Weltspiel in the national championships, she went back to Europe in 2007 to work with Jürgen Koschel, one of only a handful of Germans to attain the top rating of trainers in both dressage and jumping.

Shortly after, she bought Feramo, a nine-year old stallion, and was reintroduced to the horse’s previous rider, Patrik Kittel. She needed help training Feramo.

Patrik became her trainer and, a year ago, her husband.

The mix of cultures work. They help each other at competitions. Lyndal is into the Australian style of camping in their horse truck at shows and entertaining riders and friends with barbeques; being with the horses around the clock, easier living and competing.

Lyndal Oatley ready with a helping hand for husband Patrik Kittel as he leaves the arena at Munich, Germany. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Lyndal is popular among European riders but is loyal to her Australian team mates and friends.

She was there for Hayley Beresford’s heart-breaking elimination because of Relampago’s lameness from last year’s WEG, then the devastation of the accidental death of Reli earlier this year. And is welcoming to Australians visiting Europe.

She began competing Potifar, now a 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Jazz x Mirthe x Pion) owned by her parents, Carol and Andrew Oatley, more than 2 1/2 years ago. Aside from WEG, the pair have competed twice at the world’s most prestigious show, the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen. Germany.

A year after Potifar came Toy Story, now an 11-year-old Swedish warmblood gelding (Come Back II x Cessna x Concorde) that simply grew too big for Lyndal and has been ridden by Patrik since early in 2010 with considerable success. Included are top five finishes in Europe and at Rio de Janeiro this fall.

Lyndal, now 31, wants three Grand Prix horses to give her enough depth to compete at the top year round.

This summer her parents bought Sandro Boy , a 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion she describes as a “nice mix of Sandro Hit (the sire) and Argentinus (damsire) with the elegance of a Sandro hit and the strength and power of an Argentinus.”

Lyndal on Sandro Boy

“I am having a great time with him,” she told dressage-news.com. “His collective work is coming along quicker than we anticipated so I may take him out Intermediaire II before the end of November, but I do not want to take what he offers for granted. We take it as it comes and I look forward to where I think we are heading!”

On Potifar, though, her first Grand Prix horse and her only top mount for now, she is looking to make her contribution to Australia’s attempt to qualify a team for London.

“I don’t want to be the fourth rider,” she said. “Kentucky was a realization that I want to move forward. I have the desire and the drive to want to do the best I can.

“This is my life now.”