Colombia, New Zealand Chances Narrowing to Qualify Olympic Teams

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Colombia's Marco Bernal and Don Akzentus. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Three Colombian combinations campaigning in Europe missed out Thursday in their second attempt to earn the first of two scores required to qualify riders and horses for the Olympics with exactly one month to go and a diminishing number of competitions for the South American nation to send its first ever team to an Olympics.

New Zealand, that also has qualified its first ever Olympic team and whose top pair, Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello competed at Munich, Germany, in their first CDI outside the Southern Hemisphere, is also running out of time to qualify its first ever team to an Olympics. The N.Z. Olympic Committee set  qualifying scores that were substantially higher than the minimum required by the International Equestrian Federation and Louisa and Antonello is the only combination to fully comply with the standard so far.

However, for each combination that does not obtain the required two FEI qualifying scores of 64 per cent–or higher in the case of N.Z.–in the Grand Prix by the cutoff date of June 17 other nations have a chance to send combinations for the Olympic dressage competition at London’s Greenwich Park starting on Aug. 2.

Poland is next in line to receive an individual placing that would be its third and thus enable the country to send a so-called “composite” team of three individual ranked horses and riders to become the first Polish Olympic dressage team since the 1980 Moscow Games at the height of the Cold War.

Ireland is ranked next and then the United States which has already qualified a team and, if placings go as deep as three down the rankings, would join Great Britain, Germany and The Netherlands with a team of three plus one individual for the maximum allowed.

If more individual places open up, Austria would get to send a second combination most likely to join the young but extraordinarily experienced and talented Victoria Max-Theurer in her third Olympics.

And fifth in line is Denmark, with a mix of young and seasoned competitors some of whose performances so far this year have been among the best in the world.

At the Hamburg Dressage Derby CDI4* Thursday, Colombia’s Raul Corchuelo and Gusarapo scored 61.511 per cent, Maria Ines Garcia and Kupfermann were at 61.043 per cent and Marco Bernal and Don Akzentus were at 61.021 per cent. A fourth Colombian pair, Constanza Jaramillo who bought the mare Wakana from her trainer, Ulla Salzgeber of Germany as an Olympic prospect a year ago, has not yet shown at Grand Prix.

Colombia qualified a team at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, last October but that championship is at small tour.

The trio to show in Hamburg also competed at Mannheim a week ago. All three riders had to acquire Grand Prix mounts in their effort to qualify.

At the Pferd International CDI3* in Munich Thursday, The New Zealand pair of Louisa and Antonello scored 60.340 per cent in their first outing in Europe.

The pair led their nation at a CDI in Australia last year to qualify their first ever team for the Olympics, finishing second in their geographic area behind Australia which has three of its top dressage riders based in Europe and some other contenders who have been on the Continent for several months seeking to make their team.

Australia’s international veteran Mary Hanna competed at Hamburg, scoring 66.000 per cent on Sancette amd 64.660 per cent on Umbro.

To help transition Olympic qualifying in Latin America from small tour that has been the level for the championships, the Pan American Games, to Grand Prix level a series of Nations Cups with teams made up of mixed levels is scheduled for three years ahead of the next Pan Ams in Toronto in 2015.

Only a handful of opportunities remain for nations to obtain qualifying scores in Europe.

Although there ars a total of seven events on the calendar to the June 17 cutoff date, because of multiple shows on the same weekends four opportunities remain as a practical matter.

At the Pferd International CDI3* in Munich Thursday, The New Zealand pair of Louisa and Antonello scored 60.340 per cent in their first outing in Europe.

The combination led their nation at a CDI in Australia last year to qualify their first ever team for the Olympics, finishing second in their geographic area behind Australia which has three of its top dressage riders based in Europe and some other contenders who have been on the Continent for several months seeking to make their team.

The veteran Australian Mary Hanna competed at Hamburg to score 66.000 per cent on Sancette and 64.660 per cent on Umbro.