Lyndal Oatley & Sandro Boy Top Aussie at Mannheim Grand Prix in1st of 2 Olympic Selection Trials

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Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy overcame interruption from a rain storm forcing her to seek shelter as she was about to enter the arena to lead the Australian Olympic trials Saturday after the Grand Prix in the first of two European competitions to select the team for the London Games less than three months away.

Lyndal scored 69.723 per cent to finish seventh overall in a field of 32 combinations in the Grand Prix at the Mannheim CDI3*, watched by her parents Carol and Sandy Oatley , the owners of Sandro Boy, who had flown from Australia for the show.

Hayley Beresford and Belissimo NRW were the second placed Australian combination with 68.872 per cent, in 11th place, and Kristy Oatley and Ronan scored 68.553 per cent for 13th place overall. Lyndal and Kristy are cousins.

The three highest placed Australians are based in Germany, and are the only Australians to be among the top 15 to move on to the Grand Prix Special scheduled for Sunday.

Denmark’s surging dressage squad took the top two places–the new young star Anna Kasprzak and Donnperignon placing first with 76.000 per cent and Olympic medalist pair Nathalie zu Sayn.-Wittgenstein on Digby second on 72.574 per cent. Poland’s Beata Stremler on Martini were third on 71.128 per cent.

Lyndal later laughed about the weather break.

“I learned today not to comment that I have never competed in the rain,” she said, “as the weather gods are laughing in my face.

“The weathet got darker and darker and I knew I was in for a bath! Twenty minutes before my time it poured and as I went around the arena the C judge said, ‘No, we wait.’ So we raced back into the flooded stables and stood for 10 minutes only to be dragged out and told, ‘In you go.’

“So we went straight in.

“I was very proud. He was focused and stayed with me. At this moment, I cannot ask for more and to be the top Aussie today is a thrill.”

Lyndal received permission early this week to ride Sandro Boy as her official Olympic prospect in place of Potifar, whom she competed on the Australian team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

She sought the change after becoming the top scoring Australian combination this year wth Sandro Boy when she rode the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Sandro Hit at the Horses & Dreams CDI4* in Hagen Germany, a week ago.

In addition to the top three Australian pairs, Chantal Wigan on Ferero were awarded 66.702 per cent and 17th place overall, Mary Hanna and Sancette scored 66.362 per cent for 19th place and Rozzie Ryan and GV Bullwinkle on 65.553 per cent and 22nd place.

Rachael Sanna and Jaybee Alabaster, who two weeks ago rode in the World Cup Final in The Netherlands and have been named Australia’s domestic athlete and horse of the year, scored 63.532 per cent in 24th place and Brett Parbery on Lord of Loxley received 60.128 per cent and the 31st spot.

Mannheim is the first of two European selection trials for Australia’s dressage team. The second is scheduled for Compiegne, France, in early June.

Some Australian combinations, as with pairs from other nations, were the victims of uneven scoring from the five-judge panel.

For example, Lyndal and the family-owned Sandro Boy, were awarded marks of above 70 per cent from four of the judges while one judge scored them at 65.638 per cent that kept their overall average below 70 per cent, while the disparity for Kristy and Ronan was a high of 73.404 per cent and a low of 66.064 per cent. The biggest gap, though, was for Brett and Lord of Loxley, a high of 65.213 per cent and a low of 55.851 per cent.