Four Colombian Combinations at Achleiten Seeking 1st Olympic Qualifying Scores

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The Colombian bronze medal team at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara that qualified for the Olympics are now trying to meet minimum eligibiity. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Four Colombian combinations are scheduled to compete at the Achleiten CDI3* in Austria this week, one of only three opporunities remaining for the South American nation to field its first team at an Olympics.

A New Zealand rider and horse will also be at the same show seeking to qualify as a second individual as the Kiwis will not fulfill the requirements for their first Olympic dressage team.

Vanessa Way and KH Arvan have recorded the minimum eligibility scores but have not met N.Z. Olympic Committee requirements. Only Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello are fully qualified for New Zealand. A third rider, Shiwon Green, retired her Gosh when the NZOC requirements seemed out of reach.

The four Colombians are Raul Corchuelo and Gusarapo, Marco Bernal and Don Akzentus, Maria Ines Garcia and Kupfermann and Constanza Jaramillo and Wakana who will be attempting to get their first of two minimum eligibility scores of 64 per cent in the Grand Prix.

If three pairs do not achieve the minimums, Colombia will not be able to field their first ever dressage team, which they qualified for by winning the team bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, last October. The U.S., which won gold, had already qualified for the London Games so that left the two places from the Pan Ams available for Canada which won silver and Colombia which came third. The event was at small tour.

This will be the first show that all four Colombian combinations have competed together in the Olympic campaign.

Only Constanza Jaramillo is competing the same horse that she showed at the Pan Ams, the mare Wakana that was previously ridden by her trainer, German Olympic gold medalist Ulla Salzgeber.

The other three riders had to buy or lease new horses to make the leap to Big Tour from Small Tour in time for Olympic qualifying.

All but Jaramillo and Wakana rode at Mannheim and Hamburg but were not successful.

After Achleiten, the Colombian squad is entered at Frizens, also in Austria, next week and then Lipica, Slovakia, June 15-17, the last show before the Olympic cutoff date.

“We are working hard and against the clock but everything looks very positive,” the Florida-based Marco Bernal told dressage-news.com. “We have very nice team work, so the next three weeks will be very exciting. We will make it.”

Constanza bought Wakana, then 11 years old, from Ulla last summer. Ulla trained the mare to Grand Prix and competed on both sides of the Atlantic with scores well above 70 per cent at top European shows.

Marco said that “having to qualify at small tour, and going to Grand Prix is very hard.

“I really think it will be better to qualify at Grand Prix, again it is a big jump, it take time and the right work.”

The first step in elevating Pan Am qualifying at Grand Prix level when the next Games are held–in Toronto–in 2015 ahead of the Olymics in Rio de Janeiro was taken earlier this year when the first non-championship Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere was approved by the International Equestrian Federation for the new Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

The event was at small tour and included teams made up of combinations from different countries, but the intent is to hold the competition with teams of mixed Big Tour and Small Tour horses in 2013 and then at Big Tour level in 2014. It is not known whether he upgrade program can be continued in Wellington as the local government has revoked all operating permits for the multimillion dollar facility.