Rolex was a big weekend for WEG selection. One top rider even told me (using hyperbole) that it doesn’t matter what you do anywhere else–it only matters what you do at Rolex. However, it goes without saying that the process of choosing the USA’s best pairs to fly the stars and stripes at the WEGs is more in depth than just taking the top US Rolex finishers. Hopefully this article will help to illuminate the selection process as it moves forward into the summer.
After Rolex, the USEF asked 7 horses to participate in their Monday morning veterinary inspection.
The chosen 7: Woodburn, The Foreman, Neville, Remington, Comet, Mandiba, and Pawlow
If you don’t know–the inspection involves jogging, flexing, bone scans, drug tests, and other procedures to evaluate soundness after a four-star. Presumably, the goal is to extrapolate information about that horse’s suitability to compete for the team at the WEGs. The riders also participated in sessions with fitness, nutrition, and sports psychology experts provided by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee). Several riders told me that these sessions were extremely helpful and well received, and I’m a big supporter of helping our top riders to compete at their physical peak.
It’s bad news for the Rolex horses that were not asked to stay for the Monday inspections because the selectors passed on an opportunity to gain information on those horses at a very low marginal cost since the vets, machines, and horses were all in the same place. But, this does not mean that their road to the WEGs is over. Several of the current A and B-listed pairs who had a tough weekend at Rolex will probably shoot for Luhmuhlen in mid-June.
Of course, Will Coleman and Twizzel are also targeting Luhmuhlen after Will’s fall at The Fork broke his collar bone and his chance to ride at Rolex.
Furthermore, several of the most likely WEG horses (in my opinion) were not inspected on Monday because they did not compete at Rolex, but they are obviously still on the Team’s list of considered horses.
Leyland, My Boy Bobby, Ballynoecastle RM, Connaught, and Tru Luck are all horses that have met the minimum criteria to be considered for selection (ie: they have obtained their FEI certificate of capability and they have submitted an application). After consultation with CMP, their owners and vets, the riders determined it was in the best interest of the horses to not run at Rolex. These horses were all given a Monday morning veterinary inspection after The Fork. Tru Luck and Connaught are entered at the CIC3* at Jersey.
I have mentioned 13 horses so far in this article, and in my opinion, the rest of the US horses are on the outside looking in right now and need a great performance somewhere to enhance their chances.
The next major stage of the official FEI/WEG process is when the USEF sends a ‘nominated entries list’ to the FEI on August 15th. This nominated entries may contain up to 18 names from which the final 6 US pairs will be selected and sent to the WEGs. Before August 15th, the USEF can (and probably will) release a short list of around 18 horses to guide summer training with the US coaches and to help riders plan their autumn.
In discussion with Sara Ike of the USEF, Sara explained that because several horses may go to Luhmuhlen, we don’t know for sure when the USEF’s short list will be released. However, it is anticipated that it will be named after Jersey, but the USEF might name additional combinations in June after Luhmuhlen.
As you can see, WEG selection is a long and thorough process, requiring organization, coordination, and flexibility between the selectors, USEF, and riders. Of course, Eventing Nation will keep you posted about the process as it develops this summer. Go eventing.