William Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF tackle Pierre Michelet's course at Pau. Photo by Kate Samuels.
Seeing Pierre Michelet's cross-country courses just became a whole lot more important, as Capt. Mark Phillips and Derek di Grazia have confirmed the French designer has been tapped for the 2016 Olympic course in Rio, Horse & Hound reports. While an official announcement has not yet been made, Capt. Phillips addressed the designer selection process in his weekly column in Horse & Hound, which you can read below. Because Capt. Phillips and Derek were not able to fly to Rio before Oct. 14 due to obligations at Boekelo and Fair Hill, Pierre was selected by default. The German course designer Rüdger Schwarz — another one of the four designers under consideration for the job — was never contacted about the Oct. 14 deadline.
While the selection process certainly seems unorthodox, Derek confirmed via email that "this does appear to be the case," so that means doing our homework on Pierre's courses just became far more paramount, as Team USA will be tackling his courses in both Normandy for the World Equestrian Games next year and in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games. The last two Olympic courses have been designed by Brits, as Sue Benson designed the course last year in Greenwich Park, and Mike Etherington-Smith designed the course in Hong Kong; he also designed the course in Sydney in 2000. The only non-British designer to be tapped for the job in the past 15 years has been Albino Garbari, who designed the course in Athens in 2004.
So from a diversity standpoint, bringing a French designer to the Olympic table is a good thing. However, considering Pierre already has the honors for the World Equestrian Games, it would have been interesting to see what another designer could deliver, especially Derek or Rüdger for the sake of bringing a different international perspective to the course. That said, it seems the decision has been made, as Capt. Phillips indicated in his column for Horse & Hound that Pierre is already working with the course builder in Rio. While Pierre designing the Olympic course has many implications, two facts are very clear: The U.S. team going to the World Equestrian Games will receive a huge leg up for the Olympics, and Team USA will be making as many trips as feasibly possible to France in the coming years.
The selection process for the 2016 Olympic cross-country course designer seems to have been resolved in the most bizarre manner.
Derek di Grazia and myself have been trying to get dates to visit Rio since the start of the year. Then out of the blue at the end of September, we received an email with a 14 October deadline.
Derek and I could not go because of commitments at Fair Hill and Boekelo. Rüdger Schwarz was never contacted, so it seemed that, by default, Pierre Michelet has the job. I had an email last week saying that one of the four designers on the FEI list was able to meet the deadline and the architectural company in charge was now working with that person!
This is a far cry from the normal procedure when candidates fly in, look at the facilities, are interviewed and subsequently submit a tender. I guess things happen a little differently in South America.
Megan Jones & Kirby Park Allofasudden, the newest members of the Aussie Olympic Eventing Team, image by John Lechner | ESJ Photo
Hey EN, it's ESJ remember me? I know it has been over a month since my last post on EN, it actually feels like longer. It's not that I don't love you anymore, it has simply been the first time in a while I let life get in front of Eventing. Well for a little over a week anyway on a family holiday and since then I have actually slept better and today is the first day in about six weeks that I have got up just after 3am to write.
So where have I been? Firstly I took a holiday with my family, I left Facebook, Twitter and EN behind. We were in sunny Phuket, Thailand when they announced the Aussie Eventing team. That alone left me a bit dumbstruck. The fact that I was completely out of the loop added to the controversy that erupted at the time.
I actually thought about putting my fingers on the keyboard several times about the Aussie team and each time I was left with the feeling that I couldn't write something completely positive so I didn't do it . In the end no matter who ends up wearing the green and gold outfits this weekend I want to support them.
So anyway here comes the actual story I decided to write, Why I could never be an Olympic Eventer.
Lets get the obvious out of the way before you starting peppering the comment with sarcasm. I am a crap rider and currently don't even have a horse, so that makes it a little difficult to be selected. However there are some other traits I just don't have.
Dogged determination: While I don't like being beaten and strive to do the things I do well, I do not get up every day with thoughts of a singular goal in my head. That gold medal while nice requires a lot of sacrifices I am not sure I want to make. Can I sleep in if I want? Probably not for that chance at selection.
What about the heartbreak Shane Rose and Megan Jones have suffered in the last couple of days, as with many Eventers before them and into the future. There are two athletes in every combination to keep at their absolute peak of condition. Things go wrong, years of work can go awry in an instant. How do you face a media conference and say, we will be back?
I honestly wish I had the guts to know what that feels like because I know how horrible it felt sitting at home watching on my laptop, it was heartbreaking.
A strong dose of OCD: Working with horses is about building a relationship and routine. You can't change your training methods every day, you must be annoyingly consistent. C onsistency is something I struggle with, I get bored so easily it is not funny. But can I work on perfecting my extended trot every day or jump a corner 50 times to make sure we have it down perfect? Absolutely not.
A missed chance is a miss for another four years: Yes we all want win Badminton, Burghley and WEG but to be an Olympian is an honour, to be a gold medalist the highest honour. Four years of preparation can fall apart in a moment and suddenly you have another four years to prepare. I am an impatient bugger, I don't like waiting 4 minutes let alone 4 hours. I would simply give up if I had to wait 4 years. I know there are many steps on the journey in between but simply I couldn't do it.
Shane Rose and Taurus at the Sydney Three Day Event, image by John Lechner | ESJ Photo
Self belief: Not only must you have a brilliant horse or preferably three or four, the determination, skill, patience but you must absolutely believe you can do it. That means you need a strong and supportive team around you to help pick you up on those days when you do forget you are good enough. You must believe in yourself.
Your team: The team around you must be absolutely solid in their support for you achieving your goal. They must be prepared to make hundreds of sacrifices every year to help you get to your goal. Holidays are a great example. I just spent eight days in Phuket, drinking cocktails by the pool and shopping in the tropical sun.
There is no way if I was chasing Olympic gold we could afford this either financially or in time. So is your family prepared to give up their dreams and aspirations to support your goal of Oympic glory, mine aren't. Don't get me wrong my wife Kim and my boys are highly supportive of my aspirations and worldwide travel with my sport but not at the expense of being able to do things as a family.
Poverty: We all know that living with horses is an easy way to poverty. Working with a horse or team of horses at the elite level is a costly exercise and unless you are lucky enough to marry into wealth or sold your last Olympic prospect for a cool million, chances are you throw every single spare dollar you have into your horses. No fancy restaurants for you, in fact McDonalds becomes fuel for travelling long distances with a truck loaded with horses nothing else. Holidays are days when you don't work horses not actually going somewhere. All your birthday and Christmas presents are horse related. Besides what things can't be fixed with baling twine??
You must ignore what people write and say about you: Everyone has an opinion, look at me, I write some crazy stuff. For me it was brought home when I got a call from an Aussie rider about a story I had written in the lead up to selection. The whole process to even get to the point of being considered for an Olympic team is an emotional roller coaster. If you want to stay even remotely sane, do not read the stories written about you. If you do not want to turn into a raging lunatic then you MUST NOT EVER read the comments about you. Talk to the media, be nice, smile for the pics and then forget about it, otherwise you may not have the courage to get out of bed tomorrow.
Tim Boland and GV Billy Elliott, one of the travelling reserves for the Aussie Team, image by John Lechner | ESJ Photo
Finally, you have to be the best: Every week, whether at four star or novice every time you get on a horse you must be thinking of being the best, taking the next step to Olympic glory. Me personally I'd rather just fork over the cash and come and watch the best. Bring my trusty Nikon and hope I shoot some great pics of the best in action.
When I wrote my series on the teams that I believed would be selected for the Games I did it in full knowledge that I was taking a stab in the dark. I upset people along the way, even though that was never my intention. What I did learn however is how focused and determined the best are. I admire every single one of them for all of the reasons above. I know that I could never do it even if I had the skills. I just don't have the fortitude, most of us don't and that is why we admire these guys and girls so much.
This Olympic Games will be one of the most hotly contested Eventing competitions in a long time. I wish our sport, our horses and our riders all the best. No matter which teams and individuals end up on the medal dias, it will be exciting. I just wish I was in London to witness it first hand.
Tim Boland & GV Billy Elliot at Sydney, image by ESJ Photo
Sometime in the next two weeks I expect the Aussie selectors to finally declare their hands. My guess is at the moment, they are currently cutting up little squares of paper and writing horse names on them. Because to be honest they have too much choice.
Back in March when I wrote my story on the Aussie team and picked my team I honestly thought the Aussie team was the hardest to pick. Having selected (my choices only) seven teams for seven Nations. The Aussie team is no clearer to me than it was in March.
Heartbreakingly, the one horse I thought was guaranteed a spot was Stuart Tinney's Panamera, which has since picked up a suspensory ligament injury and will not be available for team selection. At one stage I thought Clayton Fredericks was ruled out after having been trodden on by his mount at Saumur in a fall in mid May. Clayton was out last weekend and on winning form so he is still in the mix.
Then there is the serial agitator of the Aussie selectors Tim Boland. Tim and GV Billy Elliot have for a long time been able to pull off the best dressage test in Australia from an Eventer, although Mystery Whisper was giving him a run for his money at one stage.
But Tim & Billy had cross country issues, racking up time a little too regularly and the odd 20. But recently they have sorted that out and now this pair has suddenly gone from being in the peripheral vision of the selectors to standing proud, heads held high yelling "pick me!"
Emma Mason & F1 Pharinelli at Sydney CCI3* in April, image by ESJ Photo
Last weekend at the Melbourne 3DE in the CCI3* Tim & Billy added just 6.8 time to their impressive 35 dressage score to finish a full 17.4 in front of Shane.
As for their former slow ways on XC, they were 4th fastest in fact, Shane (who is normally fastest) was a full 13 seconds slower than Tim. This and recent performances including coming a close second to Shane and Taurus at the Sydney Three Day Event in April put them firmly in the frame.
That frame is quite full, in fact there are 13 horses on the Aussie Elite list and all but two (Panamera and Be My Guest) are still in contention. In addition, there are another 17 horses on the A-Squad and at least half of them are in contention as well.
The A-Squad includes Megan Jones - KP Allofasudden, Shane Rose - Taurus, Christine Bates - Adelaide Hill, Emma Scott - Mustang, Stuart Tinney - Pluto Mio, Tim & Billy, Andrew Hoy - Rutherglen, Chris Burton - Haruzac, Lucinda Fredericks - Prada, Wendy Schaeffer - Koyuna Sun Dancer and more.
Shane Rose & Taurus at Kihikihi Horse Trials, image by ESJ Photo
The final showdown for hopefuls is this weekend at Luhmuhlen where we will see up to nine Aussie pairs vying for spots; in fact, there are two hopeful to skip the A-list and Elite squad and go straight onto the Olympic squad: Peter Atkins and Henny making their return after Peter's broken leg, and Kevin McNab with Clifton Pinot hoping to make a last minute impression after missing Rolex due to a minor injury.
There will be combinations ruled out in the coming weeks due to injuries big or small, in fact it is important to remember that when picking a team, the selectors make a list and then the team vet, and in the case of Australia, Denis "Bear" Goulding will have the last say as to who makes it onto the team.
I expect 5 horses to make it onto the plane in Sydney in a couple of weeks, they will narrow the squad down in the UK, just days before the Games.
Megan Jones & Kirby Park Allofasudden, image by ESJ Photo
As to who will make it on the plane, perhaps Equestrian Australia should just charter the whole plane and send the lot, let them all mix it up in the UK & Europe for a few months.
Who the selectors will pick is anyone's guess, as I said at the start they could just write the names on paper, chuck them into an Akubra and pick five.
Who do I want to see on the team? Well that backs me in a corner. But I will be brave, and at the risk of offending some friends, here is my list to go into camp in the UK of the Aussie based horses. In no particular order:
Tim Boland - GV Billy Elliot
Shane Rose - Taurus
Megan Jones - KP Allofasudden
Stuart Tinney - Pluto Mio
Final spot is a toss of the coin
Christine Bates - Adelaide Hill or Emma Mason - F1 Pharinelli both are impressive. Maybe we need to squeeze six on the plane rather than five.
What I am excited about is the prospects for Aussie Eventing today and in the future.
Piggy French & DHI Topper W at Blenheim 2011, image by ESJ Photo
The Brits, or as us Aussies prefer to call them, the Poms. As home team one would assume that they perhaps have a home team advantage. But given that Greenwich park is a new venue much of the home team advantage is eroded. Even the lack of travel can't be claimed as an advantage. For instance the entire Kiwi team is UK based, a good portion of the Aussie team is likewise. The French, Germans, Italians, Irish and many more are just a short boat ride from London.
Certainly there will be a weight of British crowds supporting the team, the bulk of the 50,000 (has it changed again??) spectators on XC day will be supporting the Brits but no doubt there will be large and vocal teams of supporters from all other nations.
So when it comes to picking a British team I had trouble finding a list to start with, I have found the Team GBR [http://www.equestrianteamgbr.co.uk/performance-squads/] - Eventing list but surprisingly I cannot find an actual list on the British Eventing website. Anyhow we move on and start at the top of the list. I also know I have procrastinated for MANY weeks on writing this one.
The challenge for the entire British based Eventing community is getting the competition experience they need before the Games in July. With Badminton cancelled there was a mad scramble to re-schedule horses to other suitable events. The problem is that the poor weather has continued and events continue to be cancelled. How many events that end up cancelled will be anyone's guess.
First up is Kristina (Tina) Cook, who was a member of both the Beijing bronze medal winning team and more recently the WEG Kentucky gold medal team. Tina's number one ride and partner for both championship successes, Minors Frolic, is certainly a possibility to represent Britain for a third straight championship event. There have been a couple of incompletes recently that present a warning sign for selectors, however the most recent results seem to point to this pair being back on track.
Tina & Miners Frolic are running in the CIC3* class this weekend against some class competition, so this I guess is their final chance to prove themselves worthy of selection. Tina has two other horses entered at Bramham in the massive (over 90 entries) CCI3* class both Regal Red and De Novo News. However going on form I do not believe either horse is a serious contender for the British team.
Next on the list is Ruth Edge and who currently has three horses that may be possibilities on the surface at least. Ruth's most experienced horse is Two Thyme, unfortunately their recent history is somewhat checkered with three retirements at major competitions including last weekend's Tattersalls in the CIC3* class. I don't believe this pair are serious contenders for the team. Ruth's other two mounts Rogersdale and Nick of Thyme, may be possibilities in the future but not London.
William Fox-Pitt & Bay My Hero at Blenheim 2011, image by ESJ Photo
Next on the list is William Fox-Pitt, the question for selectors is not whether to include William but which mount of his is fittest and best suited to the Greenwich track. William has huge depth of horsepower below him, by my count there are nine horses in the Fox-Pitt stables that are theoretically qualified to compete at the Games. While some are LOOOOOONG shots there are at least three possible mounts for William at the Games.
First up is Parklane Hawk which is an obvious choice after winning back to back four stars Burghley and then Lexington (Rolex), this horse is amazing and could be a easy pick for the selectors.
Let me divert for a moment, given the cancellation of this year's Badminton, William has two very interesting possibilities in the next 12 months. Firstly and uniquely he has the chance of winning the Rolex Grand Slam on one horse, highly unlikely normally given the timing of the events. Secondly he has the chance to theoretically be competing for two chances at the Grand Slam at the same time.
He already has Burghley & Rolex in the bag and they have clarified that if he wins Badminton next year he will win the Grand Slam. But what happens if he wins Burghley later this year and Rolex again in 2013. Is he up for two lots of prize money if he wins at Badminton in 2013? Five straight Grand Slams would certainly be worthy of at least double the prize money???
Back to the Games, Oslo is also in contention on the team with four wins in recent starts, he would be my number two choice for William. [UPDATE: UK Eventing Blog just tweeted out this morning that Olso is injured and will NOT be in contention for the Olympics.] Macchiato who seems to have been around for a million years was due to compete this weekend at Bramham, this 14 year old Argentinian/Aussie gelding has eight 4* starts to its name and would have been a great back up horse for Team Fox-Pitt, however earlier this week Team Fox-Pitt announced the retirement of the horse. Lionheart remains in the frame as he and Oslo compete in the CIC3* class this weekend at Brahman. Neuf Des Coeurs is also in the mix with an entry into the CCI4* at Luhmuhlen next week.
Piggy French has two top class rides in the running for the British team, I think it will be very hard for the selectors to leave Piggy off the team the simple question is which mount. Jakata is in fine form and cleaned up at Houghton a couple of weeks ago finishing on their dressage score of 38.1 this pair have a tonne of experience and while it hasn't always been rosy, the last couple of years have been stellar.
Piggy's second ride is DHI Topper W which I was lucky enough watch them win at Blenheim last year, back then they looked unstoppable. The pair picked up a second place at Burnham Market in April with six top three finishes in seven starts must also be on the radar of the British selectors.
The next name on the list is Pippa Funnell, unfortunately Pippa ruled herself out of contention in April when her two top mounts Redesigned and Billy Shannon sustained injuries. Pippa is a tough competitor and while this is a setback I expect to see her again in contention for Normandy in two years.
Mary King & Kings Temptress Burghley 2011, image by Peter Nixon/FEI
Mary King has three mounts in the mix although I think only Imperial Cavalier and Kings Temptress are really in contention. My pick would be Kings Temptress, this 12 year old mare has been on a roll at four star level in the last two years including a win at Rolex last year and then coming third to Fox-Pitt and Nicholson at Burghley last year.
Polly Stockton poses an interesting question for the Brits, she has great experience, has been part of the team before and while on the surface appears to have horsepower, her results are not what you might hope. Her top mount Westwood Mariner finished in a fantastic 3rd place at Tatts last weekend and you would think would have them in the clear running.
Personally while I hope that this Tatts result is a sign of things to come from this 11 year old gelding I don't think their past results warrant selection on the team. As for Regulus Polly's other mount, I think that he at 16 is past his best. Unfortunately I don't believe we will see Polly on the 2012 London team.
The next name on the list is Oliver Townend, he has three mounts that are qualified to compete at London, his first is a young and very green horse Arctic Mouse who no selector would risk their reputation on; this horse has a future but just doesn't have the miles to run at an Olympics. Next up is Armada, Andrew Nicholson's former mount. Oliver took over the ride earlier this year, strangely after the cut off for the change of Nationality of ownership of horses so no matter what his performance he CANNOT compete under the Union Jack.
Finally is an interesting mount ODT Sonas Rovatio, Oliver has him entered next weekend at Luhmuhlen in what I assume is a last ditch effort to gain selection. This horse has four star experience running 6th at Rolex last year. It came 8th in the CIC3* class last weekend at Tatts. Oliver might pull this one out of the bag, we will see after Luhmuhlen.
Lucy Wiegersma has two horses in the running the first is Simon Porloe a 12 year old gelding who has been in great form for the last 12 months, the problem I see is previous to that this horse had a real consistency problem only finishing half of the time. To me this horse is a big risk for an Olympic competition.
Lucy's second horse Granntevka Prince also presents a conundrum for selectors. They recently made the trip to Rolex in April and unfortunately Lucy had a fall on XC, so they came home incomplete. Prior to that they had been a pretty consistent team with the occasional blemish on XC but lots of top ten finishes. Lucy will be out on Granntevka this weekend at Bramham CCI3* (Simon Porloe is in the CIC3* class too) to prove to selectors that Kentucky was an unlucky blip and that they are worthy of selection.
Nicola Wilson is the final name on the official list, Nicola theoretically has three horses in the running including her long time partner Opposition Buzz. This pair will be running in the CIC3* class where many Olympic hopefuls from around the world will be competing. A good performance will once again see this pair representing their Nation.
There are two more names not on the list I would like to examine, the first is Zara Phillips, we all know Zara and being a former world champ we should at least look at where she is in the running. The second is Laura Collett, a young rider with a profile that is building. So firstly Zara, what rides does she have at the moment?
Zara really only has one prospect for London the Irish Sport Horse High Kingdom which she finished in 10th place on at Burghley last year. Zara is rolling the dice with High Kingdom at Luhmuhlen next weekend. They have had plenty of top 10 finishes as a pair and apart from a couple of earlier incompletes they look great. I guess the question to be answered next weekend is simply are they a London or a Normandy pair?
Finally, Laura Collett has been creating a buzz lately, not the least for the shoot she did with her pony painted from head to toe in the Union Jack. Laura and Rayef have had a roller coaster ride in the last two years with peaks including a lot of top ten finishes, including a notable 8th at Badminton (Laura was 21 then) and lows which include most recently an "E" at Saumur just a couple of weeks ago. They are competing at Bramham this weekend in the CIC3*.
Laura's other mount Noble Bestman is much more consistent than Rayef, however despite the fact the horse completed Burghley last year I don't think it yet has the miles for an Olympic horse. I believe that Laura will miss out on competing at her home Olympics but I see a bright future for the 22 year old.
Anyhow, now that I have finally put pen to paper, things will change, I always make mistakes, which will be pointed out in the comments below and of course many people just say I am plain crazy. Here is my British Olympic Eventing Team.
William Fox-Pitt - Parklane Hawk
Piggy French - DHI Topper W
Mary King - Kings Temptress
Nicola Wilson - Opposition Buzz
Tina Cook - Miners Frolic
If anything goes wrong with any of these pairs, then the UK has three top class alternatives in Lucy Wiegersma - Granntevka Prince, Zara Phillips - High Kingdom and Oliver Townend - ODT Sonas Rovatio.
We will see. Thank you for bearing with me throughout this series, I didn't expect it to be so epic. Only a few short weeks til the games and we will see how accurate I was, I am hoping better than 50% for all teams.
Stuart Tinney & Panamera Winners Adelaide CCI4* 2011 | Image by ESJ Photo
This weekend sees one of Australia's best events happening the Eventing Equestriad at Camden. This relatively new event (only a few years old) has quickly become a favourite for Eventers from around Australia. There are 600 combinations entered which is huge (by comparison a big event normally will get say 450 combos). Not only are there a huge number of entries but the Olympic selection process in Australia is getting hot.
By my count there are seven riders competing who are still in the hunt for an Olympic birth, of those only one, Shane Rose is resting his number one horse Taurus. Shane will be riding APH Moritz and Statford Neo. Taurus is having a break but I expect to see him along with almost all the other combinations at Melbourne in two weeks for the final selection run.
We will see the return of Panamera, the winner of last year's CCI4* class at Adelaide. Panamera's four star win in November almost guaranteed her and Stuart Tinney a spot on the plane and this weekend will be interesting as the other pairs line up to prove they are just as good, if not better.
Emma Scott & Mustang at Sydney | Image by ESJ Photo
Still in the selection hunt are:
Stuart Tinney - Panamera (Stuart will also be running Orchard Hill)
Christine Bates - Adelaide Hill (Christine will also be running Delago)
Megan Jones - Kirby Park Allofasudden
Natalie Blundell - Algebra
Emma Scott - Mustang
Tim Boland - GV Billy Elliot
Shane Rose - Statford Neo & APH Moritz
Craig Barrett - Wendela Jamie
There are two names not on the list they are Emma Mason & F1 Pharinelli, and Sonja Johnson & Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison. I am not sure why Emma is resting F1. I am not surprised Sonja didn't make the trek over from Western Australia, given the distance and the fact that Sonja runs the sheep station back home with her family. I am sure Sonja will be in Melbourne. While this weekend is a CIC and NOT officially a selection event as you can see most are the runners are there and three of the four selectors will be present.
The selection for the Aussie team is still WIDE OPEN, especially given the results in Saumur last weekend, Chris "Burto" Burton finishing 1st & 2nd, Bill Levitt 5th & 6th and Paul "Tappers" Tapner coming in 13th & 14th will give the selectors some real headaches, as will the injuries sustained by Clayton Fredericks in his fall. The latest word on Clayton from Team Fredericks is that they hope he will be home by the weekend. Lets hope Clayton makes a speedy recovery.
Nat Blundell & Algebra at Sydney | Image by ESJ Photo
Well it will be a VERY exciting weekend with competition from CIC3* to EVA 60cm (2 feet), 600 pairs, family activities including face painting & kids rides, a restaurant-quality meal in the VIP tent and so much more. I will be there all weekend and will provide a daily wrap.
Michael Jung GER riding La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, at the HSBC FEI World Cup Final Stezegom, Poland 2010, Photo with thanks to Kit Houghton, FEI
So here we are, we are on the second last team of ESJ's Olympic team picks, this time we look at an equestrian powerhouse: the Germans. There is no doubt that at the end of the show jumping in Greenwich park the German team will be in the mix. They are good, some of the best without a doubt, not because of some special superpowers, or even brilliant breeding in their horses.
No, they train hard, use systems every day and incorporate cross-country fences into training 3-4 times a week, every week. I know each and every person hoping to be there in London trains hard, I have no doubt at all. I believe simply that their systems and the fantastic national training centre they have at Warendorf give the Germans an edge. That said, nobody is infallible and we are talking horses, so we always roll the dice.
Anyhow, after the long lists of the French without horses named, the DOKR (Deutsche Olympiade-Komitee für Reiterei or German Olympic Committee) have produced a very precise and short list with only 11 riders and a few more horses. Much easier for me to contemplate at 4.30am (which is usually when I write these stories).
Some pairs I have never heard of, while others like Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW we all know (as Sam is revered in Eventing circles) so lets start at the top of the list and work through them.
Sandra Auffarth with her mount Opgun Louvo head the list, they finished last year's Luhmuhlen in second place after adding a rare rail in the jumping. This pair is very consistent, dressage in low 40s or 30s most of the time, they have recorded no XC jumping penalties to date although they do have two incomplete XC rounds. Overall, they do look very good, however the thing that sticks out most to me is, they haven't recorded an FEI event since August last year where they came second at the European Championships. Perhaps they have been put in cotton wool. I doubt it, as that isn't the German style, perhaps an injury I don't know.
Andreas Dibowski has two mounts on the list, the first FRH Fantasia. This pair have a lot of experience under their belts including three 4* starts winning Pau in 2010, third at Luhmuhlen in the same year and last year heading to Badminton and putting in a credible 19th after pulling two rails in the jumping, they were entered at Badminton this year to try and secure that team spot. Really their performance at Badminton somewhere else will determine whether they make the German team or not, I think they will.
Andreas also has FRH Butts Avedon on the list, this is a less experienced horse only recently making the jump to three star, I don't believe this horse is up for selection at this stage.
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW are next on the list, after their performance at WEG in Kentucky and the resulting very public ownership stoush, many of us would love to see this pair make a triumphant return, although as an Aussie, I am happy for him not to win the gold. OMG, reading Sam's FEI event record, I need to go back to September 2008 to find a finish that ISN'T top 3 and that one is fourth, there are a couple of fourths and fifths on the list but I need to go back to April 2006 when as a six year old horse Sam got 16th.
OK here are Sam's stats. From 35 FEI starts:
14 first places, 40%
8 second places, 23%
5 third places, 14%
2 fourth places, 6%
4 fifth places, 11%
So if Sam is entered at an event, there is a 40% chance he will win, 77% chance of top three, and 94% chance of top five. These stats are over Sam's whole career, if we just focus on the last three, years, then there is a 100% chance that Sam will medal and 59% chance it will be gold. I know this is only statistics but I doubt a bookie would give you very good odds on a gold. Sam has never picked up a XC obstacle penalty at an FEI event and his worst XC time penalty is 6.4 time. My money is on Sam being on the German team and, wait for it, winning the individual gold medal.
Michael does have a second horse on the list Leopin FST, in all honesty whilst Leopin was entered at Badminton and is on his way to being a solid replacement to Sam, unless Sam is missing a leg there is no way that Leopin will even get a run.
Ingrid Klimke is no stranger to the Olympics with her mount FRH Butts Abraxxas they were part of the gold medal winning German team in Beijing and individually picked up the silver medal also. Over the last four years since the Games they have continued with some fantastic consistency. There was a blip for them with an elimination on XC at Badminton last year, they were not on this year's Badminton entries and again they haven't competed at FEI level since Luhmuhlen in August last year. Another question mark for my mind.
Marina Kohncke and Calma Schelly are next on the list, again another pair that haven't had an FEI run since July last year where they were withdrawn during XC. My guess is while they will be back probably not in time for London if they are not already back on the park.
Kai-Steffen Meier has TSF Karascada M, this pair has a lot of experience with a few four stars under their belt including Badminton in 2009 where they finished 21st on their dressage score of 63. For a German combination I am a little surprised as dressage seems to be their weakest phase with scores in the 50s and 60s par for the course, they tend to be a little slow on XC but are clean and rarely pick up a rail in the jumping. For most other Nations I have reviewed so far they would make the team, for team Germany, lets put them as a maybe, some of their compatriots can score 20 less penalties in the dressage. They were entered at Badminton, perhaps there is a chance to make a mark.
Andreas Ostholt has Franco Jeas on the list, this horse is owned by the DOKR another German quirk not replicated in most countries. As a pair this team has a consistency problem, in the last 12 months from 11 starts they have three incomplete XC rounds, another two where they have picked up 20 XC jump penalties, time faults on all completed rounds and an occasional rail on the final day. They are not on my list of German combinations for the team.
Frank Ostholt and Mr Medicott at WEG 2010, photo by Samantha Clark
Frank Ostholt and Little Paint (so not a German name for a horse), this pair were back in 2011 after a break of over 2 1/2 years, with dressage as low as 34, this pair are one to watch although they are still yet to debut for the 2012 season, they haven't competed at FEI level since August, Frank was not entered at Badminton, given the horse's long break and some soundness issues, until they pop back up on the radar it is hard to tell. Maybe.
Dirk Schrade has two horses on the list, the first is King Artus. This pair have only one four star under their belt, Pau in 2009 which they won adding just 1.8 pens to their dressage score, they had a good season in 2011 with all top 10 finishes although only two CCI3* the rest were CIC 2 and 3. This pair looks like real action and I would take them on my German team. They were set to run at Badminton.
Dirk's other ride is Hop and Skip, this horse was acquired for Dirk last year when he took over the ride from Kenki Sato of Japan. This horse is a little greener than King Artus and I would take the more experienced horse at this stage.
Peter Thomsen has two mounts on the list, the first is Horseware's Barny, this 10 year old gelding is still a little green with only a year of 3* competition under its belt and yet to attempt a four star. XC time is an issue but this pair is promising, perhaps a combination to watch out for in Normandy but at this stage I don't think real contenders for London.
Peter's second mount is Horseware's Parko (no guesses on who his number one sponsor is), this 12 year old gelding has two four star events under its belt with commendable 16th and 10th results. This pair are regular features in the top ten, although they are yet to pop up on the radar for 2012 with their last recorded FEI event in October a sixth place at Boekelo. Definitely a maybe.
The second last rider on the list is Anna Warnecke with Twinkle Bee who has an impressive eight 4* starts since 2008 and was on the starting list for Badminton. The early part of their four star career is not so flashy with only one finish from their first four starts. However in the 2010 and 11 seasons they have a 11th & 9th at Burghley, 43rd at Badminton and 15th at Luhmuhlen. I have no doubt Anna wanted to do Badminton to shake off her hoodoo and prove to selectors she is worthy. I expect a good showing somewhere and for this pair to make the German team.
Benjamin Winters is the last rider on the list with Wild Thing Z, Benjamin is a young rising star for the German team, he and wild thing have made the jump to three star in 2010 and are still building up experience with some impressive results including 13th at the European champs last year. This pair is yet to contest four star and I believe there is sufficient depth in the German team not to rush this pair to London. In Normandy, they will be real contenders.
So I guess I need to pick my German team. Lets start with the easy ones;
Michael Jung - La Biosthetique-Sam FBW
Andreas Dibowski - FRH Fantasia
Anna Warnecke - Twinkle Be
Sandra Auffarth - Opgun Louv (if fit, the lack of 2012 result has me in the dark)
Dirk Schrade - King Artus
That's my team with the information I have available today, there are always but's, for instance if Ingrid Klimke and FRH Butts Abraxxas were on the radar more recently than August last year I would probably pick them. Peter Thomsen and Horseware's Parko are banging on the door and could be on the team too. Fitness is always a question but there you have it my German team, fire away.
Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra at Badminton 2011, photo by Samantha Clark
OK, here it goes, the French, the Frogs. I thought picking the Aussies was tough, this French list has more names that are unpronounceable for this Aussie bloke, a VERY long B list and was a tough pick, basically because very few combinations picked themselves. Overall, I had to comb and re-comb the lists to finalise my team.
So we start with the Elite list which interestingly lists only rider names but not horses. So combinations need to be selected. The first rider on the elite list is Stanislas De Zuchowicz who has the mount Quirinal De La Bastide ENE HN, still with me? This pair have run at Rolex twice as well as WEG, overall good dressage and generally nice XC, but they do pull 1-2 rails regularly. Surprisingly they have never run a four star on their side of the Atlantic. At this stage, they make the team.
Pascal Leroy is the next rider on the list and he has two horses at four star level, Glenburny Du Leou and Minos De Petra, both horses have competed at four star level although with mixed results. Glenburny has two incomplete XCs from the last four starts at the 4* level, the other two results were a respectable 24th at Pau and 11th at Luhmuhlen. Both results included at least one rail, this 18 year old horse is probably not worth the risk around Greenwich Park. Minos retired on XC at Pau late last year but earlier in the year managed a respectable 22nd at Badminton with 2 rails. At WEG in Kentucky this horse managed to only add 3 jumping time penalties to its dressage score. To me this is the pick of Pascal's horses although I do have concerns, its results are scattered with 2-4 rails in the jumping and they were eliminated at the Euro Champs last year at Luhmuhlen. Lets say at this stage that Pascal and Minos are a maybe, they are entered and accepted at Badminton.
Next on the Elite list is Donatien Schauly and his one horse, Ocarina Du Chanois at the CCI3* level. This 10 year old bay gelding is qualified to run 4* but is yet to be tested. However its results to date are impressive, top 10 finishes in all FEI class starts, usually on its dressage score in the low 40s. At the Euro Champs last year in Luhmuhlen they finished 6th on their dressage score and in 2010 they won Boekelo with their dressage score plus 4 XC time faults. This pair are impressive and despite being untested at four star level I would pick them.
Nicolas Touzaint is no stranger to the elite level of competition and he has three potential mounts for London; to be honest, Nicolas is a class rider and has been the backbone of the French team for a number of years now. Hidalgo De L'ile is a 17 year old bay gelding who is at the end of its career. I get the feeling Nicholas is keeping this horse ticking over, it was 5th at Pau last year, was 4th at Rolex in 2009 and won Badminton in 2008. This horse is only doing one big event each year. Nicholas is waiting for one of his youngsters to step up to the plate in my opinion. I would take Hidalgo to London, but only if either of the other two aren't up to it yet.
Pepsy Du Thil is a 9 year old Anglo Arab grey gelding, this horse is untested at CCI3* let alone 4*, we will see this horse at Normandy in two years time. That leaves Neptune De Sartene, an 11 year old bay gelding that is qualified but yet to be tested at four star. This horse is capable of low 40s dressage, clean XC and jumping. It finished 8th at last years Euro Champs. Honestly, I think we will see this horse run in the spring, most likely at Badminton (NOTE, he is not on the accepted or wait list for Badminton), if he performs as he should then Neptune will be Nicolas' mount for London, if not, the old man of the herd Hidalgo will have his swan song at London.
That finishes out the Elite list for the French, next we move on to the Seniors list of which there are 15 riders named, again with no mounts. While I have examined all 15 as part of my research I will not go through them individually but go through the highlights, the full list is here on page 14.
The first combination on the Seniors list that are a maybe in my opinion are Didier Dhennin and Opi De Saint Leo. This 10 year old chestnut gelding looks quite promising but only has one CCI3* under its belt so far a 13th at Boekelo adding just 8 time to their dressage score. This pair will need to pull off a major spring result to be considered for London. They are not entered for Badminton, although they probably wouldn't be considered given their lack of experience. Perhaps Luhmuhlen in June, we will have to see.
A pair that does have four star experience finishing 20th at last year's Pau is Karin Florent and Chicago Van't Zonneveld, that said their dressage isn't so hot but they have finished top 20 in all 3 & 4 star starts so they need to be on the list of maybes.
Edouard Legendre and Lanacan are interesting, as a pair they have completed three 4* events, Pau 16th & 34th and Luhmuhlen 25th, but they almost always pick up significant time penalties or a bunch of rails, at Pau last year they had six. They are not on the entry list for Badminton and I don't believe we will see them on the French team this year.
Denis Mesples and the promising young horse Oregon De La Vigne, this pair have shown some potential although it really hasn't shown up in placings as yet. Their dressage still needs work but they are capable of a clear if slow XC round. They do have an issue in the jumping with one rail almost par for the course and on a bad day, four rails. They are on the wait list for Badminton but number 26 at this stage so it is unlikely they will get a run. In all this pair need more experience and to be more consistent before representing their nation.
Astier Nicholas (yes Astier is his first name, I checked) and the unpronounceable Jhakti Du Jaulie have stepped up to four star last year. Prior to their four star move they were regular (almost always) finishers in the top 10. They tackled both Pau and Luhmuhlen last year and having a stop on XC at each. This pair and this young rider Astier are ones to watch, Astier is only 22 so has a long way to go in the sport and if he makes it to Badminton (they are no 11 on the wait list so it is possible) they may assert themselves for the French team. I am one for ensuring that at least one up and coming star is blooded on a major games team each time. Astier is my pick of the younger French riders.
Eddie Sans is a familier name to many eventers as he has competed at Burghley the last two years. He has two 4* horses, Mayland Du Brunel and Kramique. Both horses are veterans at four star level with Mayland having had five 4* starts despite being only 12. Kramique on the other hand had two 4* starts last year and neither was particularly spectacular with final scores well over 100 penalties. Mayland had a bad season at the 4* level last year with an incomplete at Burghley and then 124.2 at Pau just five weeks later. Mayland is wait listed for Badminton but in no 22 spot, I doubt they will make the cut. This pair have enough experience but I don't believe have the results to warrant selection for the French team.
OK we are almost there, I told you it was a VERY long B list, two more riders to go.
Jean Teulere and Matelot Du Grand Val at Badminton 2011, photo by and with enormous thanks to Samantha Clark.
Jean Teulere and Matelot Du Grand Val, this 12 year old gelding now has three 4* results under his belt and is entered and accepted for Badminton. While their results haven't been perfect a 5th at Pau in 2010 and 14th last year are promising. This pair will be aiming to improve on last year's 37th at Badminton when they line up in a few weeks. If only they can remove their perpetual two rails in the jumping and their results will be really competitive. I am putting this pair on my team.
Finally we have Eric Vigeanel who has two 4* horses Maranello and Kalin De Burgo, to be honest both horses are risky options for any national team, they have far to many "E"s in their results to be considered in my opinion.
So we have got to the end of the list, who is the team? To be honest I am not sure, lets run through them.
Stanislas De Zuchowicz - Quirinal De La Bastide ENE HN
Donatien Schauly - Ocarina Du Chanois
Pascal Leroy - Minos De Petra
Nicolas Touzaint - Neptune De Sartene or Hildago
Karin Florent and Chicago Van't Zonneveld
Astier Nicholas - Jhakti Du Jaulie
Jean Teulere - Matelot Du Grand Val
These are my top seven, if all are fit and able to compete, I would put Karin Florent and Astier Nicholas as my reserves, it is a toss of the coin as to which you would take if one of the other five dropped out. Both have assets and reasons to be on the team.
Stuart Tinney and Panamera, winners at the Aus Three Day CCI4* last year
If you have been following this series so far, you will know I have tackled the Canadian, US and New Zealand teams to date and to be honest while I did fuss over some of the selections, the teams almost picked themselves. Team Australia is much harder and one I have deliberated over for a few days before putting pen to paper. When I spoke with Eventing High Performance Manager Prue Barrett in January she told me that about 75% of the Aussie Elite or A Squad could easily be on the team. I thought, "yeah right." As it turns out, that is not that far off the mark.
The problem I had when selecting an Aussie team was I ended up with too many combinations that should go--nice problem I guess. Another titbit from Prue was that eight horses (most likely) will make it into camp (in the UK). Those that go into camp that don't make the team will have the chance to run at Burghley or some other European events. So here it goes.
First up, I think there is only one pair that doesn't need a CCI run in the next few months to prove their worth for the team--a fitness run only will see Stuart Tinney and Panamera on the plane. Panamera won the Australian Three Day (Adelaide) in November. This mare has been ticking along with nice results for the last few years but has sat in the shadow of Stuart's former number one mount Vettori and also Watermark Greyson. Both of these horses have recently been sold to Italian riders. Stuart has been successful in marketing his horses in Italy in recent years, both Ava and Carrera who have now been ridden under the Italian flag for a few years came from Stuart.
Before we leave Stuart despite having sold two four star mounts in recent months, he still has two other reserve mounts on the list, Orchard Hill and Pluto Mio. Both very good horses but Panamera is the pick of the bunch.
First up on the Aussie Elite list is Bill Levett and One Two Many NJ, this horse is a relatively green mount for veteran Bill. They had a great result at Saumur last year in the CCI 3* coming second, adding just 2.4 time to their dressage score, but failed to back that up with a solid performance at Blenheim where they picked up 20 XC plus 12 time. At this stage these guys would make my maybe list--a little green, but a solid top 10 Badminton would change that. Badminton will be their first four star attempt.
Next on the list is a personal favourite of mine Chris Burton and HP Leilani. Following a good start at Burghley with a mid 50s dressage test, Leilani, who had never quite seen a fence like the Cottesmore Leap before, misread it resulting in the mare getting hung up momentarily and Chris being popped out of the saddle. Burto was devastated and tried to re-route to Blenheim the following week but failed on a technicality so the pair did Pau with a credible 8th place despite 3 rails in the jumping. This pair have a brilliant World Cup record, 1 x 1st, 2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd and a 12th not bad. Leilani is a very long horse and she may not be ideal for the tight, twisty track at Greenwich. For now, this pair go on the maybe list, and we will see what the spring results bring.
Next up on the Elite list is Clayton Fredericks with three mounts Be My Guest, Dunges Laurent Rose and Bendigo. All three could go to Greenwich and place top 5, so I guess the question for the selectors is which one to take. Given that Clayton is based in the UK, they have the luxury of picking the best of the three as a close as possible to the Games. Right now my choice would be Be My Guest. This is a relatively new mount for Clayton who picked up the ride from Dirk Schrade of Germany in mid 2010. At their first outing the copped an E on XC but since then they have been top 20 with four of their seven results in the top 5. A third at Burghley followed by a 5th at Rolex make this combination real contenders.
Next on the list for Clay is Dunges Laurent Rose, this 13 yo mare has managed top 10 on their last six outings including two 4* events, my only concern with this mare is she regularly pulls a rail or two, in fact in her last nine outings she has managed a clear jumping round once. Not enough to exclude her from a team, but enough to think about.
Finally comes Bendigo. This horse is the greenest of Clayton's four star mounts but shows some real talent with solid finishes but low 40s and sometimes low 30s dressage, this horse is capable of sub 50 finishes and even sub 40 is not out of the question. Personally although greener that Dunges Laurent Rose, I would put this gelding as Clayton's number two mount at this stage.
Here it gets interesting with Craig Barrett and Wendela Jamie. Craig is Prue's husband. This pair has been consistently building a partnership for a while now. They have achieved top 20 results (most of them top 10) in their last 13 outings, but for me are a little light on three star results with only four--no four star--however their win at Melbourne last year puts them in the mix. I honestly think they will need a top 5 at the upcoming Sydney CCi3* to go into camp, I wonder if being Prue's partner actually puts an extra impediment in his way, Sydney will be the litmus test. Craig also has Sandhills Brillaire that got a nice third place last weekend in amongst three other horses mentioned in this story. The Sydney event will be VERY interesting.
Emma Mason and F1Pharinelli at Scone last weekend, they finished 2nd to Shane Rose and Taurus
Next up is Emma Mason and F1 Pharinelli. This combination is very interesting. Emma for starters is a professional rider with her eyes firmly on winning gold, but unlike most pro riders, she holds down a day job. Emma is a successful and hard working Lawyer. Legend has it that she is up each morning before dawn, working horses with a torch on her head and then after day break, jumps in the shower and heads to work before, fitting in a game of touch football and heading home for some more work with the horses.
Emma and F1 Pharinelli have been clocking up some miles with some great results. Lets start with this stat: in 16 starts at CIC3* to CCI4* they have one result outside the top 15, a 23rd. In three four star starts, a 3rd, 6th and 15th. These guys are consistent, I want them on my team for pure tenacity. They will go to camp, no sweat. This pair came second last weekend at the tough Scone CNC3* event, hot on the heals of Shane Rose and Taurus.
Another combination that doesn't always get the headlines but are great performers are Natalie Blundell and Algebra. This pair has two top tens at Adelaide (CCI4*) under their belts and has been top ten in their last six, 3* events. Nat and Algebra will be traveling to New Zealand in a few weeks as part of the Aussie Trans-Tasman team to compete at Kihikihi, this will be their first overseas trip and will be a make or break for their team prospects. I have no doubt they could perform in London and have them as a maybe. Sam Griffiths and Happy Times made a return to top level competition last year following the injury sustained by the gelding at WEG in 2010. With a 4th at Badminton and 16th at Burghley they have proven that little if any legacy remains from the injury. What does concern me is that in their last three events they have had 3 or 4 rails. To pull three rails in the team show jumping at an Olympic Games can mean the difference between gold and that warm bucket of spit t
hat is fourth place. I have
my concerns. A clear jumping round at last years Burghley had them in third place in front of Mary King and King's Temptress, instead they dropped three rails and down to 16th.
Sonja Johnson has the stunning thoroughbred Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison following the retirement of her long term partner, Jag. This horse presents a quandary for me. On face value the results look good, but I am not convinced. It is hard to argue with the close second behind Stuart Tinney at last year's Adelaide. But that result included a 4 for jumping which they get at almost every outing. The dressage is improving but tips below 50 only on occasion. I know this pair is coming to some amazing stuff, I'm just not convinced that will happen at London or whether Normandy is a better bet? That said, Sonja being the tough bugger she is will probably go out and win Sydney in a few weeks with a clear show jumping round and prove me wrong, I hope she does.
There are two other Aussie horses on the Elite Holding (read injured) list both have been out of action since mid 2010, so I don't expect them to be making a return for London--Paul Tapner's Inonothing and Bill Levett's Hippolyte.
Having looked at the Elite List, 15 other horses are on the A Squad List (excluding Stuart's two, already discussed). What real London prospects lie on the list? These guys are an outside chance given the talent above, I think for the Aussie based combinations they need a top 5 at Sydney, for the UK based combos a top 10 at Badminton would get you to camp. There are also two pairs in the US to watch for the Aussies. EN favourite Henny is making his comeback with Peter Atkins as legal dramas and colic now seem to be well in their past. Their stunning Red Hills result will certainly put them back in the eyes of the selectors and I hear they are diverting from Rolex to Badminton which will be very interesting. While they are not currently on a the A squad, a Badminton top 10 would put them on the list and in contention for London. Kadi Eykamp and Double Rivers Dillon at on the A squad list too and a brilliant Rolex could bring them into contention too.
Personally I only see a couple of horses on the A squad that are likely to make camp with a great performance in the coming months.
Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill at Adelaide last year
Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill are a pair that can pull off some brilliant results. They may be a little green at three star level but they had a great Adelaide despite an issue at the keyhole and I would not be surprised at all to see this pair in the mix after Sydney, especially after their great result at Scoen last weekend.
Megan Jones has her mount Kirby Park Allofasudden also primed to steal a spot on the plane to the UK. This TB gelding has lived much of his career in the shadow of Jester, who I think may have been retired after last year's Adelaide, following a long battle for fitness following illness leading up to WEG in 2010. Allofasudden has had only four results in his FEI history outside the top 10 and the most recent of those was in 2007, this horse is consistent. With plenty of three star experience and three four star starts with the worst result a 6th last year (the other two were second). It is hard to see why this horse is on the A squad rather than the Elite squad. If they continue with current form and pick up a top 10 in Sydney, they deserve to be on the plane.
There are three more combinations left that interest me. First up is Shane Rose and Taurus. This pair is looking to make up for their jumping round at Adelaide which dropped them from the XC lead to 5th place with four rails. They are capable of really good dressage and Shane on XC is a sight to behold. They are also traveling to Kihikihi on the Trans-Tasman team and I wouldn't be surprised to see Shane make bold bid for selection with a great Kihikihi and then backing up four weeks later for the Sydney three day.
Tim Boland and GV Billy Elliot have shown flashes of brilliance, with plenty of top 10 places to their names. My concern is consistency, I am not sure they are consistent enough under pressure to take to London, what I do know is that the selectors will keep a close watch on them and if the start of their season is anything to go by, they will be in the money. At the season opening Sydney midweek event in the CNC 2* class, Tim held four of the top five places with Billy Elliot in first place.
Wendy Schaeffer has been busy in Europe with her team of horses mostly focusing on gaining a spot on the Aussie jumping team for London. But Wendy is an Eventer at heart has been plugging away with Koyuna Sun Dancer. While they were eliminated at Pau in the jumping (of all phases, Wendy is a brilliant jumper), this horse won Adelaide in 2010. I expect to see them run at Badminton (this was confirmed just the other day) and they may come into the mix at that stage.
Finally, Kevin McNab has chucked his hat into the ring thanks to Frances Stead and the team at Clifton Eventing, he will be traveling to Rolex with Clifton Pinot. After Rolex this pair will head to the UK and keep preparing for London, so who knows what will happen.
OK, so here goes the prediction. Stuart Tinney - Panamera Clayton Fredericks - Be My Guest Emma Mason - F1 Pharinelli Megan Jones - Kirby Park Allofasudden Shane Rose - Taurus
I am squeezing out Sam Griffiths and Happy Times. This pair would easily make the list if their jumping improves but at the moment they sit just outside the top 5. So there you have it, the best Aussies at the moment. But there are at least five more combinations snapping at their heels, any of those could jump into contention with a brilliant result in the next 8 weeks. In the meantime there will probably be several voodoo dolls made in my honour.
If only this really worked! (Photo Courtesy of makolane)
Good Morning EN Readers! It's Friday! Let's all cheer in celebration for another long week nearly over! Somedays I feel like I need Pony GPS (pictured above) just to get through my riding, my mind has been so scrambled by the pressures of everyday life. Fortunately, my sweet horses take pity on me during those days. Nothing proves to be a better detox than some quality time with your horsey friends!
My fellow internet bloggers appear to agree, as today's News and Notes are peppered with quality entries about focusing on riding and gearing up for competition!
Valerie Vizcarrondo writes about her arrival in Aiken, SC and her experience as president of the ground jury for Sporting Days [Blue Clover Eventing]
Professional Riders Organization introduces Molly Rosin, owner of Havarah Equestrian. Molly is most well known for her horse, Havarah's Charly, but is also working a number of developing horses for competition [Professional Riders Organization]
Chronicle of the Horse spotlights another rider on their way to the Olympics, Margie Engle! Margie talks about the work she has done with her horse, Indigo, to get him Olympic-ready! [Chronicle of the Horse]
But the news isn't only interviews and blogging today! We've also got some exciting announcements!
Erin Gilmore reports on helmet maker Charles Owen announcing their decision to stop producing and selling unapproved hunt caps as of January 2012. Dover Saddlery has also been influenced, changing the way they market hunt caps from being classified as "helmets." These items are now listed as "hats," along with Top Hats. [Riders4Helmets]
The British Eventing Officials Conference recently honored David Merrit, who runs Kiln Saddlery, as 2011 British Eventing Official of the Year. David has been a TA for over 32 years, and also serves as an FEI Technical Delegate. [British Eventing]
According to Horse talk, five cities from around the world have officially submitted their bid to host the 2020 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has received applications from Istanbul, Tokyo, Baku, Doha, and Madrid. [Horsetalk]
Horse & Hound reports on a new phone app designed for Horsebox drivers, called "Rescue App." This app, available on iphone, Andriod, or Blackberry, provides a pay-on-use horsebox breakdown service. The app was created by PRP Breakdown Services, whom will come to the driver's aid in case of an emergency. [Horse & Hound]
A service of thanksgiving for the life of Josh Gifford is to be held at Chichester Cathedral on Thursday, March 1st. The memorial will be held at 2pm, and all are welcome to attend. [Horse & Hound]
Riders4Helmets has posted a Helmet Cam Alert on a fantastic new video of Christoffer Forsberg winning the VR Classics 2012, Neumuenster. While not as stable as some of the better known eventing helmet cam videos, it still features a great ride over a challenging course! [Riders4Helmets]
The Eventing Radio Show continues its tour of Ocala, interviewing Eventers Leslie Law, Betsy Watkins, Jessica Pheonix, and Gretchen Butts. The Episode can be downloaded as a podcast on iTunes or can be listened to right on the website! [Eventing Radio]
Happy Friday, EN Readers! I hope you've all got your lucky rabbits' feet with you, because it's Friday The 13th! Yes, a day made legendary by suspiciously poor choices and notoriously bad remakes of already bad movies. Best to stay on Karma's good side and avoid all black cats, mirrors, and step ladders today. Maybe your horse will let you borrow his shoes for good luck!
It's not all bad news, though. If ever we need a reminder of how talented eventers are at turning bad situations into great opportunities, the links below are prime examples!
The New York Times has written a piece called "A Horse Named Neville," spotlighting Neville Bardos and his miraculous survival and recovery from the devastating barn fire at True Prospect Farm in May 2011 that claimed six other horse's lives. The article recounts the long road Boyd Martin and Neville traveled to achieve eventing success, both before and after the fire. Despite the damage done to Neville's lungs and body in the fire, he made an astounding recover that not only left him competition fit less than three months after the fire, but has also seen him as one of three finalists for USEF International Horse of the Year. His story proves to be an inspiration to reader both in eventing and beyond. Note: NYTimes Articles expire over a duration of time and may not be available after 1/31/2012 [NYTimes]
The dates have been set for the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day! This year's trials, presented by Bridgestone, will be held from April 26th to 29th, 2012 and will feature selection trials to choose the U.S. Eventing Team for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Also scheduled is the second annual Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup, which will be held April 27th and 28th. [wtvq]
In sad news, Horsetalk has reported that Germany's "Voice of the Equestrian Sport" announcer Hans-Heinrich Isenbart passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 88. Isenhart is remembered for his live commentary for the equestrian competitions at the 1956 Olympic Games in Stockholm, and for the nearly 60 years of active commentating that followed. His funeral was held on January 10th, 2012 at Niedersachsenhalle indoor arena in Verden, Germany, where he had commentated on numerous horse shows. Approximately 700 mourners attended the service. [Horsetalk]
Draper Equine Therapy, makers of innovative therapeutic horse and equine products, will be sponsoring the Drapers' "Best Foot Forward" award each week at the 2012 Winter Equestrian Festival and at he Global Dressage Festival. Winners of this award will receive prize packages worth up to $300 dollars in Draper products, and will be individuals that exemplify and inspire a positive attitude in themselves and others around them. [COTH]
You've probably already heard of this handy app, but in the event you're not on the iPhone bandwagon Horse and Hound has reported on a new Cross Country application called "Course Walk." This app (available in the app exchange on all iPods Touches, iPhones, and iPads) replaces the need for a traditional measuring wheel by recording your progress on a course through GPS tracking. Users can add photos of the jumps, comments, and videos along the course. The app costs about $10.00 in the Appstore and is quickly becoming a favorite amongst eventers. [Horse and Hound]
Devon D'Angelo writes about the trials and tribulations of being a single female equestrian who must balance their love for horses with their desire to find new love in another person. The dating scene is not an easy place to be even for those without a "horse addiction," and trying to explain your full time commitment to your sport can prove... interesting. [COTH]
The Louisiana Horse Rescue Association and the Sabine Parish Human Society recently seized 60 horses from a farm in Many, LA. The horses found on the property were reportedly in "deplorable condition," living in filth alongside the carcasses of approximately 25 previously deceased horses and aborted foal fetuses. Over the course of three days, all the horses were removed from the farm and treated for ailments including colic, malnutrition, diarrhea, and miscarriage. The LHRA hopes to have some of the horses available for adoption in as soon as three weeks. The current daily cost for their upkeep is around $450 dollars per day. Any assistance is appreciated. [Horsetalk]
Denny Emerson pays homage to the Quarter Horse breed on his blog, "How Good Riders Get Good." While most people associate the Quarter Horse with western disciplines, there is no denying that this breed is a popular choice in English riding as well, thanks to what Denny calls the built-in "Sanity Button." While the American Quarter Horse may never be known for its competitiveness in international events such as Burghley, Denny reminds us that many of the upper echelon riders today got their start on this gentle and competent breed, and it remains a favorite among riders everywhere for good reason. [How Good Riders Get Good]
In perhaps the most ridiculous and pointless visual retelling ever written, the Hairpin.com has posted "War Horse: An Illustrated Review" to express their opinion(?) on the recent Steven Spielberg film. This review does contain spoilers, though you may not be able to suss them out through all the ridiculousness and funny illustrations. I wouldn't use this to determine whether you'll see the movie, but it's definitely good for some giggles [TheHairpin.com]
Eventing Safety and Risk Management gives an update on the completion of Cross Country's frangible device industrial standard in FEI competitions. Reports are still unconfirmed, but suggest that all frangible and breakaway jumps must conform to a set of standards determined by an FEI Eventing Committee Task Force and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). Pins, clips, and Styrofoam structures will be designed to break upon impact of a horse and rider, and the competing rider will be penalized 21 penalty points for the breakage. This topic has not been fully resolved, so more information should develop over time. [Eventing Safety]
Jennie Brannigan relates her training regime for the month of January, and her positive clinic experience with show jumper Lane Clarke. She comments on the tragic loss of Lee Lee Jones' horse, Model Cadet, at True Prospect Farm, and extends her condolences to the young rider. On a happier note, Jennie also writes about the upcoming PRO DerbyCross set to be held on January 20 in Wellington, FL. She will be sharing a team with riders Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Jeffrey Welles and Nic Roldan. [COTH]
Whew, that's a lot of news! Hopefully it will keep everyone distracted and in a positive frame of mind this Friday. If not, a trip to the barn is always a cure for what ails you. For now, I leave you will the inspiring video interview the New York Times held with Boyd Martin about Neville's "Unlikely Comeback."