Australia to Undertake Review of Olympic Equestrian Program

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Hayley Beresford on Belissimo NRW leaving the arena in tears after competing on the Australian team at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen. Germany in July. © 2012 Ken Braddick/

SYDNEY, Sept. 25–Australia’s three Olympic equestrian disciplines will undergo a review led by the Australian Sports Commission of its performance at the London Games that were tarred by legal disputes over selection procedures and a failure to win any medals. The review of the dressage, eventing and jumping programs will be held over two days next week.

The “in-depth performance review which will evaluate all three Olympic disciplines’ performances over the last four years” will be condcted by an independent facilitator, David Crocker of the Australian Sports Commission, in conjunction with Equestrian Australia (EA) that made the announcement Wednesday.

“The outcomes of the review will underpin the development of EA’s High Performance program for the coming Rio Olympic cycle,” the national federation said in a statement.

The Australian Sports Commission was created by the federal government 27 years ago to guide the nation’s sports programs and allocates funding.

The review panel is made up of Paul Cargill, EA ahairman; Grant Baldock, EA chef executive officer; Warwick Vale, EA board representative; Brett Parbery, 2010 World Equestrian Games dressage rider; Edwina Tops-Alexander, two-time Olympic jumper rider and WEG medalist; Stuart Tinney, two-time Olympic eventing rider; Graham Davey, EA National Jumping Committee; Gill Rolton, National Eventing Committee; Lesley Sullivan, Australian Dressage Committee; Georgia Clifford, selector; Carolyn Lieutenant, international dressage horse owner; Mary Seefried, FEI judge and former chair of EA, and Geoff Sinclair, former Chair of EA.

Advisors are Brett Mace, EA High Performance Manager; Prue Barrett, Eventing National Performance Director; Stephen Lamb, Jumping National Performance Director, and Deb MacNicol, Dressage National Performance Director.

The review will be held Oct. 2-3.

The panel’s findings and recommendations will be presented to the EA Board for consideration.

All three Olympic disciplines were riven by disputes over selection procedures, the most publicized involving German-based dressage rider Hayley Beresford who took her complaint to the Court for Arbitration in Sport based in Lausanne, Switzerand. Although she lost her case, her charges of flawed selection procedures generated front page stories in mainstream newspapers in Australia.

Australian eventing, one of the world’s most successful Olympic programs, as well as jumping were also marked by complaints over selection methods.

Many of Australia’s top riders are based in Europe because of the quality of the competition and difficulties in transportation of horses and because of the nation’s onerous quarantne requirements.