Russia’s Inessa Merkula Tops Olympic Individual Rankings, Trio of Danes in Top Group

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Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon, the Danish combination highest ranked on the Olympic individual standings. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon, the Danish combination highest ranked on the Olympic individual standings. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Sept. 8, 2015

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Russia’s Inessa Merkulova tops the 2016 Olympic individual dressage rankings released Tuesday while Denmark has five combinations and Belgium three pairs in the top 20 ranked riders and horses that put the nations in contention to qualify teams for Rio de Janeiro.

A mix of riders from Olympics past, such as Victoria Max-Theurer of Austria, and new prospects like Judy Reynolds of Ireland, Fanny Verliefden of Belgium and Trude K. Hestengen of Norway are in the top 10.

The latest rankings compiled by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) were released with all but one designated team place set.

Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States have qualified teams for the Games while Japan and South Africa fight it out this week at a special event in Perl, Germany for the last designated team slot.

Of the 60 Olympic slots allocated to dressage at next summer’s Olympics, 40 have been set aside for 10 teams–four from each nation with three scores to count in the Nations Cup. Those places were decided for Brazil as the host, Germany, Netherlands and Great Britain at the 2014 World Games, Australia also as the highest placing country at the World Games from its geographic area, the United States from the Pan American Games and France, Spain and Sweden through last month’s European Championships.

The other 20 places have been allocated for individuals combinations. But if a nation can qualify at least three pairs–a maximum of four is allowed–they will be able to field a team that’s called “composite” but is the same as the other teams. Nations that have directly qualified teams cannot also qualify individuals.

Canada and Mexico are the only countries to have qualified individuals so far, and they did so through the Pan Ams in Toronto in July.

Canada is seeking to qualify at least two more individuals. The latest rankings have Megan Lane at No. 16 as the top ranked Canadian and Jacqueline Brooks in 30th place.

The other 18 available individual placings will be based on the best four results of combinations in specified competitions around the world from Mar. 9 this year to Mar. 6 in 2016.

The allocation of places and format for qualification for the remaining slots:

–Athletes from nations placed first and second in each of Olympic Groups A, B and C (Northwestern, Southwestern, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia) will each obtain one quota place for a total of six.

–Athletes from nations placed first in each Group D and E (North, Central and South America) will each obtain one individual quota in addition to the two places allocated at the Pan Ams for a total of four.

–Athletes from nations placed first in each Group F and G (Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Oceania) will each obtain one individual quota place, plus another two at the special qualification event this week for a total of four.

The final six individual quota places will be allocated to the athletes of nations from the ranking list next March.

The rankings as of Aug. 31, 2015 (the “Rank” in the left column was the placing before the removal of numerous combinations whose nations have since qualified teams):

Olympic rankings_2016 31.8