Portugal Probably In, Ukraine Out If 2012 Selection System of 8 Best Scores Used for This Year’s Rio Games

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Portugal's Gonçalo Carvalho on  Batuta. © Rui Pedro Godinho
Portugal’s Gonçalo Carvalho on Batuta. © Rui Pedro Godinho

Mar. 8, 2016


Portugal would have qualified an individual instead of Ukraine for the summer Olympic Games if a system similar to the 2012 London Games with rankings based on eight competitions over a year and not the four that led to a last-minute scramble that produced some controversial results this year.

However, most nations that qualified individuals for Rio de Janeiro would have made it under both systems, according to a review by dressage-news.com of results based on the FEI, International Equestrian Federation, world rankings that is made up the eight best results from Mar. 1, 2015 to Feb. 28, 2016.

The system applied for the 2012 Games used Olympic rankings on the eight best results for a year from Mar. 1, 2011 to Mar. 1, 2012 to fill individual spots. A total of 50 places were assigned for dressage in 2012. That was increased to 60 for this year.

Teams from 10 nations totaling 40 horses and riders were selected through championships, a special event and, as is traditional, the host country. Four individual places were allocated in the same way.

For the remaining 16 places, the number of scores to be ranked for 2016 was cut by half to four over a year from Mar. 9, 2015 to Mar. 6, 2016 by the FEI Dressage Committee. Some places were assigned to seven geographic groups under International Olympic Committee guidelines.

A CDI3* in Moscow at the end of February would most likely have been included in a qualifying system similar to 2012. The event was controversial as a result of a score of more than 82 per cent for Russia’s Inessa Merkulova and Mister X as well as the second placed Marina Aframeeva on Vosk.

Applying the 2012 format–as some critics of this year’s process have proposed for the future–the individual combinations qualifying with eight results from Mar. 1, 2015 to Mar. 1, 2016 compared with what occurred would most likely have been:

A – North Western Europe — Anna Kasprzak/Donnperignon (DEN), Mikala Gundersen/My Lady (DEN) in 2016 — same under 2012 system;
B – South Western Europe — Victoria Max-Theurer/Blind Date (AUT), Fanny Verliefden/Annarico (BEL) in 2016 –Victoria Max-Theurer (AUT), Marcela Krinke-Susmelj/Smeyers Molberg (SUI) same for 2012 format;
C – Central & Eastern Europe; Central Asia — Inessa Merkulova/Mister X (RUS), Marina Aframeeva/Vosk (RUS) in 2016 — same for 2012;
D – North America — Megan Lane/Caravella 2016 — same for 2012;
E – Central & South America – Yvonne Losos de Muñiz/Foco Loco-W (DOM) 2016 – same for 2012 ;
F – Africa & Middle East — Christian Zimmerman/Cinco de Mayo (PLE) 2016 — same for 2012;
G – South East Asia, Oceania — Julie Brougham/Vom Feinsten (NZL) 2016 — same for 2012.

Open rankings (6):
Valentina Truppa/Eremo del Castegna (ITA) 2016 — Agnete Kirk Thinggaard/Jojo AZ 2012;
Judy Reynolds/Vancouver K (IRL) 2016 — Fanny Verliefden/Annarico (BEL) in 2012;
Marcela Krinke-Susmelj/ Smeyers Molberg (SUI) 2016 — Lars Petersen/Mariett (DEN) 2012;
Agnete Kirk Thinggaard/Jojo AZ (DEN) 2016 — Gonçalo Carvalho/Batuta (POR) 2012;
Lars Petersen/Mariett (DEN) 2016 — Valentina Truppa/Eremo del Castegna (ITA) 2012;
Inna Logutenkova/Don Gregorius (UKR) 2012 — Judy Reynolds/Vancouver K (IRL) 2012.

The last-minute scramble for scores and judging at some shows marked the third straight Olympics in which dressage has become controversial.

Actions by the then Dressage Committee chairperson led to her being ousted and a new format devised to include different stakeholder groups in the committee that had been dominated by judges.

A dispute over exceptions allowed by the FEI to the makeup of judging panels outside Europe sparked an appeal that went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.