USA to Announce Olympic Team With Other Dressage Nations Following Soon After
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, June 26, 2016–The United States dressage team for the Olympics will be announced within the next couple of days with other nations declaring teams and individuals in the next three weeks ahead of the July 18 deadline for definite entries for the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The Americans will select their team of four horses and riders and a traveling reserve combination following three events in Europe that ended at Rotterdam this weekend much as it began at Compiègne, France a month ago.
Florida-based Laura Graves on Verdades, Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet and Allison Brock on Rosevelt CDI3* were the stand out performers in the two selection events in which they participated. As the most experienced and highest ranked rider, Steffen Peters on Legolas punched his ticket to Rio de Janeiro at the second qualifying event in Roosendaal, Netherlands then put the pair at the head of the line at Rotterdam.
Nothing changed at this CDIO5* Nations Cup and companion CDI3* that would seem to change the calculations in selecting a team that probably has the best shot at returning the United States to the podium since the last Olympic medal performance, bronze, at Athens in 2004 for the fourth straight Games.
The only question would appear to be the reserve–Arlene “Tuny” Page on Woodstock or Shelly Francis on Doktor, both Florida-based riders and both with world championship experience.
Rotterdam was also the second of two selection events for Australia, that has a team berth for Rio, but encounters enormous distances and competition experience between the riders at home Down Under or based in Europe or the United States. Ccreating a level playing field is next to impossible.
The Australians opted for two selection events in Europe and, subject to veterinary examinations, the top combinations were German-based cousins Kristy Oatley on Du Soleil and Lyndal Oatley on Sandro Boy, the U.S.-based Kelly Layne on Udon P and Mary Hanna, Australia-based but with decades of experience competing around the world, on Boogie Woogie. Three other combinations that paid their own way from Australia to vie for a place on the team fell short, according to the unofficial math, and now have to pick up the tab to get back home to a country that has such severe quarantine restrictions it adds significantly more to the bill.
Canada’s selection procedures are also scheduled to end this week when Karen Pavicic and Don Daiquiro incurred the cost of flying from the West Coast of North America to compete at Fritzens-Schindlhof, Austria to seek to qualify ahead of the country’s July 3 deadline. The last-ditch effort was triggered by controversial circumstances surrounding the last Canadian qualifying event in North America and much-criticized judging that boosted Megan Lane on Caravella into the second starting slot at Rio along with clear leader Belinda Trussell on Anton.
There are not many questions about two of the three powerhouse nations where the teams will be decided at the last minute.
Great Britain, the defending team and individual gold medalists, will announce its team ahead of the Hartpury, England CDI3* Dressage Festival July 7-10.
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro will be at the lead though the pair have not competed since the European Championships in Aachen, Germany last August but as the holder of all the world score records and the dominant combination for the past four years the feeling is that there is nothing to prove by participating in another show ahead of Rio. Carl Hester, the mastermind of much of Britain’s success for several years as well as part-owner of Valegro and coach and mentor of Charlotte, will be on the team with Nip Tuck and Fiona Bigwood, who also works with Carl, will be the third member with Orthilia. Lara Griffith on Rubin al Asad and Laura Tomlinson on Rosalie B, a member of the 2012 Olympic gold medal team and winner of individual bronze, are expected to take the fourth spot or reserve.
Sweden’s team will be decided the same week at the Falsterbo Horse Show with six-time Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvénon on her championship mount Don Auriello and Patrik Kittel on Deja expected to be named.
Germany has a lineup to dream of–world No. 1 Kristina Bröring-Sprehe on Desperados, Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympian with five gold medals, on Weihegold OLD, Dorothee Schneider on Showtime and, based on results this year, Sönke Rothenberger on Cosmo. Others speak in awe of the possibility that all four combinations already have or are capable of achieving 80 per cent at Grand Prix that would be a first in Olympic history.
The team will be announced during the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen July 13-17.
Denmark, that was able to field a team by qualifying four individuals, will also announce their team at the same time and Spain is expected to do so at the same time.
The same weekend the Netherlands team will be selected as the Dutch national championships where questions about Edward Gal’s rides on Glock’s Undercover and Voice will be answered. Hans Peter Minderhoud seems assured of a spot with Glock’s Johnson as does Diederik van Silfhout on Arlando with several strong contenders for the fourth spot and reserve.