The USEF released a compact High Performance Winter/Spring Training List on Wednesday night, and Selection Committee Chair Bobby Costello kindly took some time to answer EN’s questions about this latest release. Why a smaller list? What does this list mean in the context of the 2016 Olympics? Which events might these riders target in the spring?
1. A smaller list: You probably noticed that this latest list of 13 riders is nearly half the size of the Summer/Fall training list. The decision to keep the list smaller is a strategic one in order to allow Coach David O’Connor to give more individualized attention to the riders in a major championships year.
“The selectors are there to support David and his goals for the team,” Bobby said. “His idea has always been starting out in a non-championships year with a very broad list of riders, then getting focused for the World Equestrian Games, then opening it back up for two-star horses for the Pan American Games, then focusing it again for the Olympics.”
2. Not a pre-selection: While this latest release of the training lists has been tailored with the Olympics in mind, Bobby stressed that this list is not a pre-selection for Rio. Rather, the goal is to prepare riders for the remaining U.S. selection trials next year: Rolex, Badminton, Jersey Fresh, Saumur, Tattersalls, Bromont and Bramham.
“Rolex will be a big target for a lot of the riders that still need to prove themselves at the four-star level,” Bobby said. “Tattersalls is going to be a targeted event in the spring for quite a few of the combinations. It’s a great event because a lot of the riders haven’t competed there before, so it’s a new and different venue.”
3. Room for more: While the selectors’ intent is to keep the training lists at a smaller size in a championships year, Bobby emphasized that there is room to add more riders who come out “gangbusters” in the spring and show consistent good form at competitions.
The High Performance Committee adopted a quarterly review process for the training lists last year in order to give the selectors this flexibility to add riders to the lists. The selectors did use that option this year, adding Clark Montgomery to the World Class list after his top-10 finish at Luhmühlen with Loughan Glen.
Congratulations to the 13 riders named to the High Performance Winter/Spring Training Lists. To any riders who didn’t make the list, come out “gangbusters” next year and claim your spot.