USA Dressage Team Scraps European Tour Before Olympics, Opts for Head-to-Head Wellington Competition in Tokyo-Like Conditions of Heat at Night

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Centerpiece International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that will host head-to-head American dressage competition toward selection of U.S. Olympic team. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Mar. 31, 2021

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The United States dressage team has scrapped plans to go to Europe ahead of the Olympics and instead hold a head-to-head night time competition of up to 12 combinations in Wellington in June when conditions will be similar to what’s expected in Tokyo, hot and humid.

The competition June 8-12 of Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special to music–a format identical to Tokyo–will be in the main International arena at the jumping venue of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, according to plans announced Wednesday by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

It is mandatory for all short listed combinations.

The announcement comes after months of uncertainty over the European competition calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic now in its second year and the Equine Herpes Virus that has closed competitions from February through to mid-April.

Other factors included the cost of sending up to eight horses and riders–among them the top ranked Salvino that is a stallion and thus limited to the time to be out of the country without requiring lengthy quarantine on return–and the amount of travel, from the U.S. to Europe, back to the U.S. and finally leaving from America for the trans-Pacific flight to Tokyo.

Organizers of some premier European events promised to make room for the Americans. Although the top Olympic prospects will not go to Europe, other riders and horses for both senior and youth divisions are expected to cross the Atlantic. In 2020, the coronavirus led to widespread cancellations of shows in Europe, most of which are dependent on spectators to make ends meet.

U.S. horses have been able to compete at will over the past five months, with CDIs in both California and Florida late last year followed by the 12-week Global Dressage Festival of seven CDIs in Wellington ending this week. CDIs are scheduled at the newly opened World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, the WEG show grounds at Tryon and Sacramento, California in April and Temecula in South California in early May.

The USEF said that the Wellington competition that it has designated an “Observation ” event will run under FEI drug, saddlery and dress rules. The tentative timetable is:

Tuesday, June 8–Horse inspection
Wednesday, June 9–Grand Prix
Thursday, June 10–Rest/Training
Friday, June 11–Grand Prix Special Test to music
Saturday, June 12–2nd Horse Inspection/Veterinary Evaluations

The schedule for dressage at Tokyo is:
Dates TBD–Minimum 7-Day Pre-Export Quarantine
July 15, 2021 (to be confirmed)–Horses ship to Tokyo
July 23, 2021–Horse Inspection
July 24-25, 2021–Grand Prix Test (Qualifier for the team and individual finals)
July 27–Grand Prix Special (team final)
July 28, 2021–2nd Horse Inspection & Grand Prix Freestyle (Individual Final)
July 30, 2021–Horses ship back to U.S

Among combinations either on or likely to be on the ranking list, estimated by dressage-news.com, are:
Adrienne Lyle/Salvino & Harmony’s Duval
Olivia LaGoy-Weltz/Lonoir
Steffen Peters/Suppenkasper
Sabine Schut-Kery/Sanceo
Nick Wagman/Don John & Ferano
Benjamin Ebeling/Illuster van de Kampert
Jennifer Williams/Millione
Charlotte Jorst/Kastel’s Nintendo
Jan Ebeling/Indeed
Katherine Bateson-Chandler/Alcazar
Anna Buffini/FRH Davinia la Douce
Susan Dutta/Figeac DC & Don Design DC