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 injur
y 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.
Yours in Eventing,