Surprises Galore in Australia’s World Games Selection Trial in Europe

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Mary Hanna and Sancette at Schindlhof CDI 4*. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Mary Hanna and Sancette at Schindlhof CDI 4*. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

FRITZENS, Austria, July 4, 2014–The first of Australia’s two European trials to select a team for the World Equestrian Games less than two months away produced surprises with veteran Olympian Mary Hanna posting a personal best on her Sancette and the experienced Kristy Oatley and Ronan not far behind at the Shindlhof CDI4* Friday.

The ride by Mary and the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Sandro Hit x Contender) scored 70.420 per cent and was a personal best for the pair that have been competing together since late 2010 and were on the Australian team at the Olympics in London two years later.

“I was so pleased with Sancette,” said the three-time Olympian. “He is really starting to be very consolidated in his work, thanks to my brilliant trainer Patrik Kittel who has really helped me get more steadiness and a better connection, and Sancette has responded so well to his system of training.”

Kristy and Ronan, a 14-year-old Oldenburg stallion she has been competing for 15 months, scored 69.300 per cent to be the second best of the Aussies and eighth overall. Kristy trains with Sjef Janssen, the former Dutch team coach and now best known as the coach of Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas making their return to the top of the sport.

Kristy Oatley and Ronan in the Schindlhof CDI4* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kristy Oatley and Ronan in the Schindlhof CDI4* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The biggest shock was for the performance by the top ranked Lyndal Oatley whose Sandro Boy did not look comfortable and it showed in their score of 68.420 per cent to rank fourth among the Australians.

“Sometimes you don’t see things coming,” Lyndal said in a Facebook posting after her ride. “I felt something going around the ring.”

Thus the conservative ride.

Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina that were the leading Aussie combination Down Under and the sole pair sent to Europe to represent the home-based riders placed last in the group of five competing in the battle to be on the team at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France at the end of next month.

Briana Burgess and La Scala had the misfortune to be the first to go in the class of 30 horses and riders but scored 68.820 per cent that placed them third for the Australians.

Only Grand Prix scores count so no one has a chance to make up for Friday’s performances before the second and final selection trial in Deauville, France in three weeks.

However, with only five combinations now available–Hayley Beresford and Jaybee Alabaster pulled out and Kristy has two horses–Australia needs four for the team and a reserve in case something goes wrong before the dressage starts at WEG on Aug. 25.