Though they may not be eventers, there’s no disputing that Harvey and Sue Smith have achieved legend status in the equestrian world. Renowned for his bluntness, showjumper Harvey attained elusive mainstream notoriety after famously flicking the v-sign at the Hickstead judges as he won the Derby in 1971, while his partner, Sue, is a Grand National-winning racehorse trainer. Though both would become known for their successes, neither would be recognised for their backstories – but At The Races has sought to change that, with this fascinating interview with two legends of equestrian sport. Get ready to be inspired.
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The British-based among you will likely have seen that the Eventing Riders Association of GB will be hosting a jam-packed fundraising day on the 26th of January to aid equestrians affected by Australia’s bushfires. With demos from Tim Price, Alex Bragg, Piggy French and more, plus a barbecue and plenty of banter, it’s set to be a top-notch day out for fans of the sport. Unfortunately, tickets have now sold out – but keep an eye on the ERA’s page for your chance to nab a last-minute spot, and definitely check out the online charity auction, which is heaving with brilliant buys. Some of the highlights? A trip to the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, complete with a coursewalk with Chris Burton; a skull cap signed by fifteen legends of the sport, including Mark Todd, Lucinda Green, and Mary King, lunch with Lucinda Green at Thoresby International; tonnes of training opportunities, and the chance to have an event rider as your slave for the day. Cheeky.
National Holiday: National Popcorn Day…or, um, World Quark Day.
U.S. Weekend Action:
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent much of the winter trying to persuade yourself that this year, you’ll definitely nail the showjumping. Maybe you’ve been compressing and elongating strides between a couple of poles until your vision goes squiffy; maybe you’ve taken your stirrups away and toddled through endless lines of grids. My own favourite way to learn? By warming up after a ride with a hot drink and a look at how it should be done. This ultra-composed and lightning-fast round by Christian Ahlmann at Leipzig last year is worth watching frame by frame.
Whether your season is underway, you’re knee-deep in planning and prep, or you’re just in need of some sunny escapism, the latest instalment of Jon Holling‘s ‘The Long and Short of It’ on YouTube has plenty to help buoy you along. In this episode, Jon takes Archie for a cross-country schooling session, and shows how he strings exercises of varying intensity together to build confidence and adjustability. With in-depth and insightful explanations of how to let a horse learn from his own mistakes, and candid hints on the difference between riding to train and riding to compete, it’s a quick and fun watch that’ll leave you itching to get out on course for your next schooling session. We stan a man who shares his knowledge.
It’s a sure sign of spring to come when you can start planning your sojourns to the first two five-stars of the year – and for those of you on the eastern side of the pond, there’s plenty to be excited about. Badminton Horse Trials (May 6-10) opened its box office for general sale today after a week of priority sales, with a slew of early bird incentives for the keenest of beans among you.
So what can your hard-earned money get you? Plenty, as it turns out. Personal admission by day runs as follows:
- Wednesday 6 May – first horse inspection; Science Supplements Cup: £10
- Thursday 7 May – dressage: £18
- Friday 8 May – dressage: £18
- Saturday 9 May – cross-country: £32
- Sunday 10 May – final horse inspection, showjumping, and prize-giving: £16
These early bird prices are valid until the 31st of March, at which point they’ll each go up by £2, as will car parking, which runs at £10 a day under the early bird system.
Planning to go multiple days? A season pass could be your best bet: running at £66 for entry and £30 for parking, they allow you access to each day of the action – perfect if you want to fit in plenty of shopping, a few glasses of fizz, and a coursewalk, too.
Your dressage day tickets allow access to unreserved grandstand seating on a first-come, first-served basis, or you can reserve a spot on the west stand, facing the A end of the arena, for £7-£14. On Saturday, you can also access the grandstand seating at no extra charge, but for Sunday’s showjumping, you’ll need to prebook your seat, which will run from £10-£43.
Want to treat yourself? You can add in a membership badge, which gets you access to the Weatherbys Hamilton Badminton Members enclosure, from £5 a day or £46 for the week. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy the view from the garden enclosure, situated on the south side of the arena, as well as indoor facilities should the weather take a turn for the worse. Televisions will broadcast all the action as it happens, so you won’t miss a moment, plus you’ll be kept well-fed and watered with myriad catering options and refreshments (plus members-only loos, which is the dream for any seasoned Badminton-goer).
Once again, Badminton will offer full camping facilities, plus the return of the popular Badminton Retreat – a festival-style glamping experience, situated by Huntsman’s Close and offering VIP evenings with special guest speakers.
For a full breakdown of pricing options and to book your tickets, click here.
Ever wondered what it’s like to head to a specialist auction, checkbook in hand? Intimidated by the idea of sifting through hundreds of viable candidates? Five-star eventer and expert Mustang-wrangler Elisa Wallace takes us behind the scenes as she goes shopping for a client in Las Vegas. Learn how she narrows down the options, the dos and don’ts of sussing out suitability, and, of course, the all-important art of bidding.
Though Elisa’s video focuses on a largely Western-based auction, her tips and tricks – and the experience of the auction itself – are much the same as the busy and star-studded event horse auctions at Monart, Goresbridge, and beyond. Busy planning a 2020 trip to find your next superstar? You’ll find plenty to help and inspire you here. If you can’t go eventing, you might as well go shopping, right?
Ready to shake off the dust that’s accumulated over the holidays and sink your teeth into some meaty fare? You’re in luck: the 2020 USEF Annual Meeting kicks off today, running until the 11th of January at the West Palm Beach Hilton. There are still some tickets available on the door if you’d like to catch all the action in person, but if you can’t make it to Florida, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to follow along with all the discussions, talks, and panels happening over the next couple of days.
- Follow the live-stream.
USEF Network will be bringing you comprehensive coverage of the panels taking place this afternoon and tomorrow, with timings as follows:
Wednesday, Jan. 8
Safe Sport: What’s New to Know – 1 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
The Future of Equestrian: Leveraging Data & Technology – 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Media: Broadcast & Beyond – 4 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 9
The Equestrian Community’s Impact on Global, Environmental, and Social Issues – 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 9 – 2 p.m.-5 p.m.
- Download the app.
That’s right – the Meeting now comes complete with its own app, detailing schedules, offering up speaker bios, and even giving you navigational help if you get lost in the Hilton, like some sort of very niche version of The Shining. Click here to download for iOS and here to download for Android.
- Get on the mailing list.
Not a USEF member? Sign up for free fan membership to receive the daily newsletter, which will fill you in on each day’s goings-on.
- Keep it locked onto EN.
We’ll be bringing you rolling notes and updates of all the most pertinent discussions happening at the Meeting – and if you ask us really nicely, we might even drink a frozé on the beach for you.
We’re saddened to report that Carousel Quest, Oliver Townend‘s 2009 Burghley winner, has been put to sleep aged 25, following a long and happy retirement.
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It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of Carousel Quest. Andrew Cawthray’s “Quest” was a horse I had long admired before I had the pleasure of taking on the ride in 2008 and from the word go we formed a strong partnership finishing runners up at The Festival of British Eventing, winning the Scottish Championships, placing 5th at Fontainebleau and 8th at Kentucky before the highlight of his career: winning Burghley in 2009. He finished top 10 in another two CCI4*’s (now CCI5*-L) before retiring to a quieter life and had the honours of parading at Burghley to commemorate his successful career. Quest was always a quirky horse but had a heart of gold and was besides a talented competition partner a very dear friend to me and he will leave a huge hole behind. He was one of the horses who cemented my name on the map and I will always treasure the memories and what we accomplished together. Quest, thanks for everything and say hi to the other old guys up there for us!
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“It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of Carousel Quest,” said Oliver in a statement on social media. “Andrew Cawthray‘s ‘Quest’ was a horse I had long admired before I had the pleasure of taking on the ride in 2008, and from the word go we formed a strong partnership, finishing runners-up at the Festival of British Eventing, winning the Scottish Championships, placing 5th at Fontainebleau and 8th at Kentucky before the highlight of his career: winning Burghley in 2009. He finished top ten in another two CCI4*s (now CCI5*-L) before retiring to a quieter life, and had the honour of parading at Burghley to commemorate his successful career.”
“Quest was always a quirky horse but had a heart of gold and was, besides a talented competition partner, a very dear friend to me, and he will leave a huge hole behind. He was one of the horses who cemented my name on the map and I will always treasure the memories and what we accomplished together. Quest, thanks for everything, and say hi to the other old guys up there for us!”
Previously owned and produced to CCI5*-L by Cressida Clague Reading, the Irish Sport Horse gelding (Carousel x Vickidora) recorded top-five finishes at Chatsworth CCI4*-S, Bramham CCI4*-L, and Burghley CCI5* before moving to Oliver’s yard, and into the ownership of longtime supporter Andrew Cawthray, in 2008. Here, the notoriously mercurial – though undeniably talented – grey would enjoy two full and fruitful seasons. Though Oliver would often choose to withdraw partway through a competition if he felt the horse wasn’t at his best, they would only fail to complete one of the internationals they set out to, and would otherwise never finish outside the top ten.
But the horse’s success didn’t come without an enormous amount of work and care, as Oliver explained in a 2012 interview with the Independent: “Carousel Quest had been sold twice and failed the vets both times. We got him to Burghley without galloping him; a long, slow tedious process. But he was in a different league; you could tell that the moment you sat on him.”
Quest’s Burghley victory in 2009 would put Oliver firmly in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam, though his dream would be thwarted by a nasty fall at Kentucky with Ashdale Cruise Master the following spring. A fourth-place finish at Burghley in 2010 would help to end the year on a high for the rider, although it would prove to be Quest’s final international competition: in 2011, he was withdrawn after showjumping at Belton CCI4*-S, and later that year, the sixteen-year-old would say goodbye to his many fans formally, in the main arena at the Lincolnshire five-star he’d won so easily. He would retire with an impressive 1,212 British Eventing points to his name, but more pertinently, the poignant honour of having been Oliver’s first Burghley winner. Eight years after that first win, Oliver would romp to a second on another quirky grey: the great Ballaghmor Class.
Our thoughts are with Oliver, Andrew, and all of Carousel Quest’s connections and admirers.
If you’ve had any access to social – or, indeed, regular – media over the last week or so, you’ll be well aware of the ongoing chaos inflicted by one of the world’s most significant climate crises thus far. And if you haven’t? Allow us to break it down for you.
Over 14.8 million acres of land in Australia have been destroyed by bushfires, which are raging out of control across New South Wales and Victoria. Since the fires began in September, at least 20 people have been killed, another 28 have gone missing, and over 1,500 homes have been destroyed in the steadily worsening blaze, which has seen innumerable displaced families evacuated to a smoky coastline in the hopes of salvation. Even there, the air temperatures can reach up to 120 Fahrenheit – an almost unbearable condition to live in.
For those who have animals, particularly livestock, the situation is especially complicated. Half a billion animals have died so far, both wild and domesticated, and several species are feared to have been wiped out as a result. 8,000 of these are koalas, now considered ‘functionally extinct’ – though this might sound like an optimistic turn of phrase, it actually means that there aren’t any breeding pairs left in the wild, or that the gene pool is so diminished that it can’t sustain the species.
Social media has been flooded with photos of animals left behind or turned loose to escape the fires – horses with phone numbers scrawled on their hooves; dogs skulking through smouldering wreckage.
Five-star eventer Megan Jones is one of many Australians effected by the ongoing crisis. Her Hallmark Farm, located near Adelaide in South Australia, was hit by the fires just prior to Christmas. Though her house and all the property’s human, equine, and canine denizens were spared, her stables, paddocks, cross-country field, and an array of farm machinery were destroyed.
Despite the trauma of losing part of her home base, Megan and husband James have been vigilant in documenting their experience and sharing with the wider world the reality of living in these afflicted areas. Now, they’re diving into the rebuilding process, chasing some semblance of normality on uncertain ground.
What Can You Do?
Though you might feel as though Australia’s bushfire crisis a situation you can only watch from afar, helpless to assist in any way, there are plenty of ways to support the efforts of those on the ground and help the affected rebuild.
Want to help Megan and James rebuild their training facilities, which have become a valuable asset for local riders? Check out this GoFundMe.
To support the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, which is largely volunteer-led, donate here.
Want to help with the rehabilitation of wild animals? WIRES Wildlife Rescue is on the ground helping injured wildlife, while WWF Australia has pledged to restore the homes of koalas, giving the species a chance of survival. Finally, the Australian Red Cross is providing emergency relief for those affected by the devastation.
We’re on the right side of the new year now, folks, and that means we’re heading swiftly towards the start of the 2020 British eventing season. Aiming high this season, or want to start planning your weekend spectating trips? We’ve collated all the FEI and Advanced-level events happening in the United Kingdom this year for your perusing pleasure. Time to start getting that shiny new diary broken in.
- CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S, Advanced and Au25: 27-29 March – Thoresby Park International (Nottinghamshire)
- Advanced: 4-5 April – Weston Park (Shropshire)
- CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, Advanced: 9-11 April – Burnham Market International (Norfolk)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 17-19 April – Kelsall Hill International (Cheshire)
- CCI2*-S, CCIP2*-S, Advanced, Au25: 25-26 April – Withington Manor International (Gloucestershire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 1-3 May – Fairfax and Favor Rockingham International (Leicestershire)
- CCI5*-L: 6-10 May – Badminton Horse Trials (Gloucestershire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 15-17 May – Floors Castle International (Roxburghshire)
- CCI4*-S, CCI2*-S, Advanced: 16-17 May – Dodson and Horrell Chatsworth International (Derbyshire)
- CCIO4*-S, CCI3*-L, CCIYR3*-L, CCI2*-L: 21-24 May – Houghton International (Norfolk)
- CCI2*-S: 28-30 May – Belsay International (Northumberland)
- Advanced: 29-31 May – Childeric Saddles Little Downham (Cambridgeshire)
- CCI-Intro 1*: 30-31 May – Brand Hall (Shropshire)
- CCI4*-L, CCIu254*-L CCI4*-S: 4-7 June – Bramham International (West Yorkshire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 12-14 June – Nunney International (Somerset)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 20-21 June – Alnwick Ford International (Northumberland)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 27-28 June – Keysoe International (Bedfordshire)
- CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S: 2-5 July – Barbury International (Wiltshire)
- Advanced, Au25: 17-19 July – Aston-le-Walls (Northamptonshire)
- CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 24-26 July – Burgham International (Northumberland)
- CCIYR2*-L, CCIJ2*-L: 24-26 July – Bishop Burton International Youth Championships (East Yorkshire)
- CCI-Intro 1*: 25-26 July – Chilham Castle (Kent)
- CCIYR3*-L, CCIJ2*-L: 27 July – 2 August – Hartpury Junior and Young Rider European Championships (Gloucestershire)
- CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, CCI2*-L: 13-16 August – NAF Hartpury International (Gloucestershire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 21-23 August – Somerford Park International (Cheshire)
- CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, CCI2*-L: 26-30 August – Land Rover Blair Castle International (Perthshire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S, Advanced: 29-31 August – Wellington International (Hampshire)
- CCI5*-L: 2-6 September – Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (Lincolnshire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S: 11-13 September – Cornbury Park (Oxfordshire)
- CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S (8/9yo): 16-20 September – SsangYong Blenheim Palace International (Oxfordshire)
- Advanced: 19-20 September – Allerton Park (North Yorkshire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S, CCIP2*-S: 26-27 September – South of England International (West Sussex)
- CCI4*-S: 3-6 October – Childeric Saddles Little Downham International (Cambridgeshire)
- CCI3*-L, CCI2*-L, CCIYH3*-S, CCIYH2*-S: 8-11 October – Osberton International (Nottinghamshire)
- CCI3*-S, CCI2*-L, CCI2*-S: 22-25 October – Bicton Arena International (Devon)
Let’s get this ball rolling. We’ll catch you on course, EN.
Raise a glass, chaps – we’ve officially made it to another Olympic year! But what’s actually been happening since we last checked in on the trail to Tokyo?
The closing of 2019 brought with it some crucial deadlines on the Tokyo timeline – notably, the final step in the qualification process for eligible teams and individuals. We wrote in depth about the Certificate of Capability (or COC) required for qualified teams – to refresh your memory, check out the full story. Want a bite-sized recap? Basically, each of the teams who had earned tickets to Tokyo had until the 31st of December to get three horse-and-rider combinations qualified, using results from 2018’s World Equestrian Games through to the deadline, and following the standard Olympic Minimum Eligibility Requirements. These three combinations wouldn’t necessarily be the three named to the team, but by finishing the year with three eligible combinations, they would prove to the FEI and the IOC that they were capable of fielding a full team when Tokyo came around. In essence, it was a way of proving strength in depth.
A Refresher: the Qualified Teams and How They Qualified
- Japan – automatically qualifies as the host nation
- Great Britain – WEG 2018
- Ireland – WEG 2018
- France – WEG 2018
- Germany – WEG 2018
- Australia – WEG 2018
- New Zealand – WEG 2018
- Poland – Special Qualifier for Group C (Central, Eastern Europe and Central Asia) at Baborówko
- China – Special Qualifier for Groups F and G (Africa, the Middle East, South-East Asia, and Oceania) at Saumur
- Thailand – Special Qualifier for Groups F and G (Africa, the Middle East, South-East Asia, and Oceania) at Saumur
- United States – the Pan-American Games 2019
- Brazil – the Pan-American Games 2019
- Sweden – the FEI European Championships 2019
- Italy – the FEI European Championships 2019
- Switzerland – the FEI Nations Cup 2019
Most of the qualified teams walked this requirement – for the eventing superpowers of the world, finding three combinations who have ticked the requisite boxes isn’t hard. The MERs are straightforward enough, after all:
- Qualification must be achieved as a combination
- Combinations must achieve an MER at both a CCI4*-S and a CCI4*-L, or they can achieve a standalone MER at CCI5*-L
- An MER, or qualifying result, must include a dressage score of 55% or better (penalty score 45 or below), a clear cross-country round with 30 or fewer time penalties (if at four-star) or 40 or fewer time penalties if at five-star, and a showjumping round with 16 or fewer jumping penalties
- The combination can knock one frangible, earning 11 penalties, and still use the result as an MER. A second 11 penalties, a 15, or a 20 will render the result invalid for qualifying purposes
The World Equestrian Games in Tryon counts as a CCI5*-L for qualification purposes, and so we saw many of the obvious candidates earn their COC qualification there. But a small handful of teams – notably, those who had qualified through CCI3*-L competition – would have their work cut out for them in the latter stages of the season to ensure they kept their qualification. The final European CCI4*-L of the year at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, was a crucial competition on the trail to Tokyo, and representatives from all three vulnerable teams – China, Thailand, and Brazil – would come forward. Here’s how it played out:
- Sun Huadong spent much of his 2019 season aiming for qualification with Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z, with whom he helped the team to earn their ticket at Saumur. After nailing down their CCI4*-S result at Strzegom in April, they suffered two aborted attempts to earn a CCI4*-L result, and Sun took on trainer Tim Lips’ Brent in a bid to close out the season with an MER. Ultimately, though, he would bring the former to Pratoni – and the choice would pay off. They finished 20th, delivering a dressage score of 35.8, a clear cross-country with 26.8 time penalties, and a four-faulter showjumping with an additional 3.6 time penalties. It’s a narrow qualification – if they’d exceeded 30 time penalties across the country, they wouldn’t have nabbed it – but it’s a classic case of slow and steady winning the race. China, who only needed one more combination to qualify, could breathe easy – but they weren’t done yet.
- Yingfeng Bao has had something of a tumultuous season with Teseo, the former Andrew Nicholson ride with whom he’s been working to build up a partnership. We’ve seen a smattering of non-completions from the duo, who only picked up their CCI4*-S result last month at Montelibretti, but at Pratoni the pieces fell into place, and they finished 17th, earning a dressage score of 34.4, 17.2 time penalties across the country, and two rails partnered with four time penalties over the poles. Now, China boasts four qualified combinations, and will send their first-ever eventing team to Tokyo.
- Talk about riding with the weight of the world – or, at least, your home nation – on your shoulders. Arinadtha Chavatanont and Boleybawn Prince were Thailand’s last hope for fulfilling the Certificate of Capability, but after a fall in their CCI4*-L attempt at Strzegom last month, the pressure was on. Would the horse be fit and ready to run? Would they be able to leave their demons in the start box and make it happen, despite Arinadtha having no prior experience at the level? They could. The combination, who are based with France’s Maxime Livio, finished 11th after adding just 12.4 cross-country time penalties to their dressage score of 36, ensuring that their flag would join China’s in making Olympic history.
- Brazil had some work to do after some nearly moments through the year, but up-and-comer Rafael Mamprin Losano and Fuiloda G got the job done, finishing 13th after posting a 32.5 dressage and adding 17.2 time penalties across the country. They add this result to their CCI4*-S coup at Montelibretti last month, where they finished third. Now, Brazil can add Rafael, who was Sir Mark Todd’s second rider before the Kiwi retired from eventing, to a list that includes Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly (qualifying results collected at WEG and Kentucky CCI5*) and Marcio Carvalho Jorge and Coronel MCJ, who qualified at the WEG. The only spanner in the works now? Coronel MCJ has been sold on – and the FEI will need to decide whether the qualifying result is still valid for the Certificate of Capability, which aims to prove that a country has sufficient breadth and depth to make use of their team ticket. Brazil would have hoped for a qualifying result from Carlos Parro and Calcourt Landline to afford them a buffer, but the pair withdrew after cross-country.
So what does this mean? Well, for Thailand and China, it’s straightforward – both teams will file their COC and breathe easily. But for Brazil, the matter is a little more complicated. Both the FEI and IOC are very strict about nationality and ownership where official Olympic entries are concerned – but will they be slightly more lenient about fulfilling the quota for the COC? That’s on them to decide, and they have until the 10th of January to do so. On this date, they’ll contact each of the eligible nations and inform them of their allocated place. These teams will then have until the 3rd of February to confirm their spot. If Brazil hasn’t earned their place, they’ll forfeit their ticket to Belarus, who have the second best aggregate score of the non-qualified nations in the Olympic rankings (Russia has the first, but is ineligible to take the ticket), receiving an individual spot in its place.
What’s the Deal with Individuals?
Although much has changed about the forthcoming Games in terms of team formats – we’re looking at a three-person team with substitutions possible, as we saw at Boekelo – one thing that remains the same is the provision for individual competitors. There are 20 individual places available, all of which will be awarded to nations that aren’t participating in the team competition. These slots will be formally awarded after the February 3rd deadline for team confirmation, and must be officially confirmed by the 16th of March, so all we can do for now is speculate – but here’s how it’s looking.
Assuming Brazil keeps its team spot and doesn’t take an individual place in its stead, the first 14 individual places will be awarded by region. The Olympic rankings are split into seven regional zones, each of which will be eligible for two individual spots – these will be decided by the horse-and-rider combinations who are best ranked within those regions. Those combinations will earn a place for their country – it’s crucial to note that they don’t necessarily earn the spot for themselves. Ultimately, that decision will come down to each national federation.
This is how it breaks down at the moment:
A – North Western Europe: Tim Lips and Bayro top the bill for unqualified nations in Region A, so they earn the Netherlands an individual spot. Tim Lips also sits second on this list with Eclips – but an athlete can only earn one place for his nation, so it skips him and goes down to the third best-ranked horse-and-rider combination from an unqualified nation. That’s Merel Blom and Ceda – so both of the Region A individual places will go to the Netherlands.
B – South Western Europe: Karin Donckers and Fletcha Van’t Verahof top the list of unqualified NOC athletes for this region, which means that Belgium takes an individual slot. (No, we don’t know why Belgium counts as Region B and not Region A either.) The second spot would go to Spain, earned by Francisco Gaviño Gonzalez and Source de la Faye.
C – Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Assuming all the teams stay as they are, we’ll be looking at a Russian clean sweep here – Alexandr Markov and Leader top the bill, followed by Valery Martyshev and Primero. Of course, Russia has been banned from competing in Tokyo due to their ongoing doping scandal – but athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag if they have a clean sheet, and so these two spots would effectively be taken up by the Olympic flag, as we’ve seen in similar situations in the past.
D – North America: The USA takes a team spot, so there’s two countries left in Region D to battle it out – but Mexico, unfortunately, falls short. Canada will take two individual spots, earned by Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes and Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges.
E – Central and South America: Chile leads the way for this individual slot, with Carlos Lobos Muñoz and Ranco sitting atop the list of athletes from unqualified nations. Puerto Rico takes slot two, with Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy sitting second.
F – Africa and the Middle East: Victoria Scott-Legendre and Song du Magay top the bill for Region F, earning South Africa an individual place. The second goes to Pakistan, thanks to Usman Khan and Azad Kashmir. (see notes below)
G – South-East Asia and Oceania: India will take a spot as the result of solid efforts by Fouaad Mirza and Fernhill Facetime, while Thomas Heffernan Ho and Tayberry take the second for Hong Kong. (see notes below)
After the allocation of these places, the final six are awarded based on the full, unsegregated Olympic ranking list. A nation can field a maximum of two individual athletes, and so we’ll be skipping the Netherlands, Russia, Canada, and of course all the nations sending teams. At the moment, the final six looks like this:
- Miloslav Prihoda Jr and Ferreolus Lat earn a place for the Czech Republic
- Alexander Zelenko and Carlo Grande Jr earn a place for Belarus
- Aliaksandr Faminou and Martinie earn a second place for Belarus
- Peter Flarup and Fascination earn a place for Denmark
- Miroslav Trunda and Shutterflyke earn a second place for the Czech Republic
- Lea Siegl and Fighting Line earn a place for Austria
Phew. Everyone still aboard the school bus? Good. Now, it’s important that we remind you again that these are not the final allocations – this is all conjecture. A number of factors will come into play when these spots are formally decided – there’s the team kerfuffle to work out, first of all, and the fact that the Olympic Rankings are currently only updated to the end of November, whereas results to the end of December will count. That shouldn’t make a huge difference – the three events that could impact this take place in Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina – but it could do. Finally – and perhaps most crucially – an individual place will only be awarded to a nation with at least one horse-and-rider combination meeting the MER as outlined above by the December 31st deadline. This will affect those Region F and G qualifications: South Africa doesn’t have a qualified combination, and nor does the only remaining country on the rankings list, Zimbabwe. That individual slot would then go into the full Olympic ranking list, going to Austria via Rebecca Gerold and Shannon Queen. We’ll see the same again in Region G, where India doesn’t have an eligible athlete and the rankings list stops short – this spot would hypothetically go to Ecuador via Nicolas Wettstein and Meyer’s Happy.
Nothing like having your brain fried on a Saturday morning, eh? We’ll be bringing you more Olympic debriefs over the coming weeks, including a look into heat-busting methods, a list of crucial dates for your nerdy calendars, and further speculation on what we could see this summer. Until then – Go Tokyo, and Go Eventing!
Moskow 80 (Part #2)
Posted by Bakar Gachechiladze on Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Happy Friday, EN-ers. To celebrate the first weekend of this Olympic year, we’re going to go back in time to another Games — the 1980 Moscow edition.
You might not have heard much about the Moscow Olympics and the small role eventing played within them, and there’s ample reason for that. It would be the most diminutive Olympics in terms of competitor numbers since 1956, with just 80 nations taking part after the U.S. led a boycott against the Soviet-Afghan war. Sixty-six nations in total would abstain entirely from the Olympics, while several would field competitors under the Olympic flag, rather than their own. Amid whisperings of doping scandals, Soviet athletes would go on to take a staggering 127 gold medals of the 204 on offer.
Equestrian sport at the Boycott Games, as it became known, was among the hardest-hit, with just 11 nations competing in these disciplines. Just six would participate in the eventing competition: Italy, who had won the 1964 team gold, would take the silver, while three-time European Champions the USSR would win gold. Mexico rounded out the podium, though with only 11 competitors completing from 28 starters, the medal ceremony must have looked a rather sedate affair.
So where did the leading nations and competitors go, if not to Moscow? To France’s Fontainebleau, of course, which would host the alternate Olympics. It would be a fruitful one for the U.S. eventers — Jimmy Wofford and Carawich would take silver, while Torrance Watkins and the crowd-favourite pinto Poltroon would nab bronze, making the popular rider the first woman to medal in eventing at a Games, official or otherwise. West Germany’s Joel Pon would win the gold medal with Ensorceleuse II. By 1984, when the Games moved to Los Angeles, things would mostly have returned to normal — though the Soviet nations would opt to return the boycott in kind.
Dive into today’s video, which shows how the ‘real’ Games in Moscow played out — plenty of timber, deep footing, a long, testing track, and a truly sinister soundtrack. Happy weekend!
While we’re on the topic of resolutions today, we thought we’d circle the wagons and get the team together for some 2019 reflection and 2020 perspective. As we head full speed into a brand new eventing season, here is what the EN team is resolving to do. Consider this an accountability group, loosely moderated by chinchillas.
Shelby Allen: Resolutions always seem so mammoth to me, so the last few years I’ve made mine something to simple without benchmark measurements: Bake more, ride more, etc. Like most things in my life, the last 365 days were taken at full speed. I split my time between working and going back to school to get a degree in nursing, and 2020 will be much the same. This year will have some pretty impressive milestones — I’m getting married in August and graduating from Emory University in December — so my New Year’s Resolution is to enjoy the busyness. I want to take care of myself and my people, and it would be nice to get my semi-retired-now-out-of-retirement eventer back in a competition arena. Bring on 2020!
Tilly Berendt: Every year I scribble a list of resolutions into the bag of my diary, and every year, they’re almost completely work-related because I am a colossal saddo. One of them is always the same: cover an event that I’ve never been to before. Every year, I’m lucky enough to tick that box, and 2020 is no exception – I’m so, so excited to make my first trip over to Kentucky. Bring on the bourbon, my friends. I’m also quietly hoping that this will be the year I finally write a book – I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it – and I’d love to squeeze in an FEI event or two with my own horse, the indomitable Queen Bee, too. Otherwise, my goals for the year are pretty straightforward – go back to Aachen and drink as many free mojitos as I can stomach, flirt shamelessly with some showjumpers, lather, rinse, repeat. 2020 will have to work hard to live up to 2019, which has been a pretty marvelous thing overall, but I’m confident that in this, at least, I can succeed.
Maggie Deatrick: For years I’ve had ideas about anything and everything; about how to improve the workflow at my company, about things I can see with the databases I’ve collected, opinions about the love of my life (eventing!), even plots for YA novels that aren’t half bad. But they never go anywhere after I shout them out into the ether, living only in an echo chamber as my cheerleaders reassure me that they are in fact good ideas. I never follow through, never pick one thing and follow it to fruition with elbow grease and persistence. So this year, my goal is focus and follow through; pick one thing at a time and make it happen.
Abby Powell: At the risk of sounding really cliché and cheesy, my New Year’s Resolution is to be more present. I’ll admit that in the past I’ve thought that sayings like “Be Here Now” and “Live in the Moment” were some of the most gag-worthy corny sayings out there (actually, I do still kind of think that,) but now I can see the merit of them at least. I guess I’ve gotten older and wiser and all that jazz, but really it’s only recently started to hit home to me that (brace yourself for another cliché, I’m sorry!) the future isn’t guaranteed and it makes life more enjoyable to be present in the current moment rather than dwelling on the past or living only for the future. Now, that’s not to say I won’t continue obsessing over the future, because I so totally will and I’m really good at it in fact! I just need to slow down here and there, take a breath, enjoy time with my friends and fam and be thankful for the moment. Additionally, this year I would like to read more books and not let so much produce wilt in my fridge.
Jimmie Schramm: I don’t entirely believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but I will say that one of my goals for this year is to pull less cross country so I can start making the time!
Sally Spickard: 2019 was a great one for me, and part of that comes from my return to the EN team. I’m looking forward to contributing more to the great sport of eventing in 2020, and although I don’t ride currently I find that I’m perfectly content telling the stories of the people I admire and aspire to emulate. I can’t wait to dig up more of those stories in the new year.
Leslie Wylie: Balance … what is that? I’ve forgotten over the past year. Probably having a baby has something to do with it. But in 2020, all the things I’ve sort of let fall by the wayside — riding, running, having some semblance of a social life — I’d like to revisit, in a way that is sustainable. I tend to be an all-or-nothing, go-big-or-go-home sort of girl, but in the coming year I think moderation is going to be key, and granting myself some grace that I can’t do everything all of the time. Maybe I go Training instead of Prelim, and that’s fine. Maybe I run a couple 5Ks instead of a marathon. Maybe I farm out some of the EN stories I’d love to write myself, or take a day off here and there. I love living life at the fastest pace possible, but this year it could be worthwhile exercise to find the fun in pumping the brakes on occasion, too.
And so we come to the closing of a year and the end of another decade – things sure have changed a lot around here since Eventing Nation was born at the beginning of it. But it’s not just EN that’s gone through a major cycle of growth – it’s been a huge ten years for its readers, too.
We asked you to send in your own tales of transformation over the last ten years and boy, did you deliver. From heartbreaking and re-making stories of overcoming injury, loss, and mental health wobbles to gorgeous – and, okay, sometimes hilarious – human and equine glow-ups, we’ve loved reading every single one of your submissions. Now, we want to share some of our favourites – get ready to be inspired for your own decade of transformation ahead.
Fighting Through and Thriving
This has been a funny old paradox of a decade – sure, we’re all embroiled in political turmoil up to our eyeballs, regardless of location or leanings, but on the flip side, we’ve all learned an enormous amount about the nuances of human nature. Discussions about mental health, identity, and acceptance are at the forefront more than ever before, and with them, we’ve created a safe place to talk about the wobbly bits in life. Sometimes, that can be the catalyst for some incredible positive change, and we are here for it.
Several of you submitted stories that made us pause and reflect on the bits none of us tend to broadcast – the tumbling lows, a pervasive darkness that won’t bugger off from whence it came, and the huge hurdles that can appear from nowhere and change the path of life forever. But what struck us is the fighting spirit conveyed within – the grit and gumption to keep on keeping on. To those of you who overcame the odds this decade, we offer a salute. To those of you who are battling your own demons, whatever form they may take, let this show you that there is always a light.
Rachel Thomas showed just what ten years of determination can accomplish with her story:
“There are no photos of me [from 2010], because I was ashamed of who I was,” she tells EN. “What I looked like, what I did … everything. I was in the middle of terrible, awful, horrible black depression. I don’t remember 6 months of my life because I was too busy trying to stay alive and look after my son who was a toddler. I had lost who I was. In 2011, I had a baby. My daughter helped pull me out of my black hole – but all I was was their Mum. In 2012, I had a chance opportunity to deliver something and visit a mate. There, I met her retrained racehorses and this sowed a seed of something in the back of my mind.”
That seed would have to wait, though.
“I was ill all through the winter of 2013,” says Rachel. “I got sick at Halloween, and didn’t recover until Easter. Steroids, inhalers, more steroids, more inhalers. By this time, I was hugely overweight and unfit.”
The next two years would see Rachel rediscover her passion for horses: “I realised that I wanted to learn to ride a horse in 2014. Like … properly. Not just sitting there. By this time it was 15 years since I had been dumped by Sebastian the Appaloosa pony at Wellington Riding and had not bothered to get back in the saddle,” she says. But there was one obstacle: she was still unfit. Throughout 2015 Rachel, who started the year as a UK size 20 (US 16), lost over 65 pounds, motivated by the smaller-sized breeches she’d bought as a statement of intent. The next year, the svelte size 10 (US 6) would run the London Marathon, receive an influential ADHD diagnosis, and like many of us, would mourn the passing of young Hannah Francis.
“I kicked myself that I had now wasted 17 years, and booked in for trial lesson at local riding school. The jodhs were too big – my hat fitted though!”
In 2016, Rachel would sit on a horse for the first time in nearly two years. Within a year, she would buy her own horse, and within two, she would jump around her first event, completing the Willberry Wobbleberry Challenge (aimed at “wimpy, middle-aged riders” aiming for BE80/Beginner Novice level) at Tweseldown, finishing in the top ten. This year, the newly-minted eventer left her job to work full-time with horses.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” she says. “I’m so happy now compared to how I entered the decade, and I feel pathetically grateful for every single moment I spend with my wonderful horses. I have found lifelong friends, and am stupidly in love with my little life.”
It’s been a decade of rebuilding for Cara VL, who started 2010 in a grungy loft in downtown after losing her job and her house in the recession. But a chance encounter would change everything.
“I took a job as a carriage driver after getting stuck behind one,” she explains. “That job allowed me to be around horses after not riding for a decade and a half. It made me realize owning and riding a horse as an adult was actually an option.”
Fast-forward ten years, and Cara is now the ‘proud mama’ to two lovely mares and made her eventing debut this year. And even better:
“Remember that grungy loft? It was full of artists. I left corporate for good to paint horses as my occupation.”
Let it never be said that Jan Snead isn’t a seriously tough cookie. In 2010, she was recovering from her third spinal surgery, and she would spend much of the year in physical therapy, relearning how to walk.
“I walked with a cane and had been told that wheelchair time was a probability,” she tells us. “I returned to college to change careers, from dental hygienist to accountant as my back would not allow me to continue in dentistry. I had stopped riding years before; never did I think I would ride again.”
But – spoiler alert! – she would.
“This year I purchased my heart horse, an off-the-track Thoroughbred. Together we are learning dressage, and we will begin competing in 2020. There are no limits to what we can achieve.”
Jessica Kroposky Fischer began the 2010s in a way that no parent wants to – rushing back and forth to the hospital with a very sick baby, who had to be fitted with a nasogastric tube to provide nourishment. But all the worry and the work was worth it: now, Jessica’s gorgeous daughter, who enjoyed pony rides on her mother’s retired Thoroughbred, has an OTTB of her own. Watch out for their eventing debut in 2020.
A physical transformation isn’t just limited to riders (or their eyebrows – because let’s be real, we’re all still trying to grow out the over-plucking of the mid-2000s). You sent in plenty of equine glow-ups too, showing exactly what a decade of progress – and sometimes, a change of discipline – looks like.
Aidan Hutchinson shared these sweet photos of her Thoroughbred x Paint mare, who was born in 2010 and closed out the decade by competed at the 2019 American Eventing Championships in Kentucky. And in between? “A lot of life happened – two human babies for me, a check ligament surgery, and a PSSM diagnosis for her. She has the heart of an upper-level horse, but not the body – I never thought I’d ride through the Head of the Lake [pictured]!”
In 2010, Elaina Anglin‘s Appendix Quarter Horse Wingman was six years old and “mediocre at best at his intended career as a barrel horse – he spent most of his time going on long trail rides.”
Elaine decided to see if the gelding would take to jumping – and as it turns out, he did. Now Junior, as he’s known at home, has extensive mileage at the Preliminary (BE Novice) level, has jumped around two-stars, and still enjoys the odd tackless jumping session.
A then-12-year-old Paige Thompson ushered in the start of the decade jumping around her first mini-trials with her four-year-old Quarter Horse, Cole. In 2014, the duo would compete in their first CCI2*-L, finishing on their dressage score. Since then, they’ve helped launch the University of Louisville eventing team, picked up fourth place at the AECs, and made the move up to Intermediate. And yes, that’s the same horse in both photos!
Melanie Helms didn’t let 25 years out of the saddle stop her from taking the eventing world by storm this decade. After going to medical school, completing two residencies, and committing wholeheartedly to her role as an anaesthesiologist, then-47-year-old Melanie returned to the sport in 2009 with draft-cross Sammy D. Together, they stormed around the Beginner Novice (BE80) level, never finishing out of the prizes – and that, Melanie thought, was where she’d stay.
But fast-forward to 2019: 57-year-old Melanie and her American Warmblood R Pair A Dice are smashing it at Training level (BE100), picking up plenty of prizes along the way.
“Never in 2009 did I think I’d be here,” she tells us.
Maddie Cracknell started her decade as a five-year-old doing the walk/trot classes at Upperville Horse Show, and finished it riding around the American Eventing Championships.
“She finally got her diagonals figured out,” quips Wendy Ott.
“In 2010 we had bred what I hoped to be my upper level horse. A decade later we finally moved up to Preliminary,” says Alexis Baker. “The wait is soooo long, but I have a great partner and it’s so much fun to compete on one you bred and started yourself!”
As the summer of 2010 began, Sophie Evans‘ dreams came true: she was finally a horse owner. Nearly ten years later Sophie, who has since worked as a travelling eventing groom and the head girl of a busy competition yard, is planning her first FEI event. The secret? Hard work and big dreams.
As the decade began, you could likely find Jadyn Silver on the trails – she and her aging Appaloosa were out and about six days a week. But in 2016, Jadyn wanted to try something new, and she bought Gellan, a very green six-year-old, despite not yet knowing how to post the trot or pick up the correct lead. It didn’t slow them down, though – this year, Jadyn and Gellan won the Area VII Jr Training Level (BE100) Championships. Green and green makes black and blue? Nah, sometimes it makes blue, red, and gold.
Taking it to the Top
The stars – they’re just like us. Or at least that’s the case for these top riders, who made great strides in the 2010s, proving that no dream is too big to realise.
Jodie Seddon might be a familiar face at four-star events and showjumping competitions in the UK now, but in 2009, she was fully entrenched in London office life, working for US law firm Skadden.
“I was slightly bored, working crazy hours in Canary Wharf,” she says. That summer, she made her first tentative forays back into the saddle, having given up horses when she’d graduated from Oxford in 2003.
“I started tinkering about with horses again – meaning clinging on to a hack around the farm now and then, when I was home for a weekend avoiding the Blackberry! I secretly took myself off for a schoolmaster lesson (awful) and even more secretly found a share horse in London (really), which I rode a couple of times and took to a BE90 [US Novice].”
Submissions have been edited for clarity.
Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the top 15 most popular videos shared on EN in 2019. The tip-top “Best of 2019” spot goes to “Party Mode Activated,” which garnered 11,160 views when it was originally posted on March 15, 2019.
Our #1 video of 2019 comes to us courtesy of British eventer Harriet Upton, who represented Team GB at the 2014 Junior European Championships. Then, we saw her partner with 2012 Olympic veteran Carraigh Dubh, the great grey gelding she bought for a whopping 90p. Never the most straightforward horse, Danny obviously taught Harriet a thing or two about getting the very best from a horse with, um, an opinion or two! Now, Harriet’s burgeoning string (which includes two horses owned by none other than Her Majesty, the Queen of England!) is headed up by the talented Kilkenny Lady, who might just be the dictionary entry for ‘chestnut mare.’
Check out this fab compilation that Harriet put together, showing some of her mega mare’s best dance moves. Harriet and Rosie will be stepping up to four-star this year after a successful season at Advanced last year — these two are definitely a pair to keep an eye on (and not just for the above!) Turns out the upper levels ARE one big party … who’d have guessed?! (Also, check out that smile — it never budges. New life motto? #BeMoreHarriet!)
Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the top 15 most popular videos shared on EN in 2019. The #3 spot goes to “An Accidental Pas de Deux,” which garnered 8,840 views when it was originally posted on March 8, 2019.
As eventers, we’re used to adopting a certain kind of mindset where the first phase of competition is concerned: that is, most us just want to get it over and done with so we can get to the fun bits. All too often, our horses seem to agree with us.
Britain’s Imogen Murray encountered something else entirely while competing at Oasby Horse Trials today: a horse that would rather be between the boards than out on course, thank you very much. The Lesser-Spotted Dressage Enthusiast is a rare breed — it’s estimated that there are probably less than a hundred breeding mares left in captivity, and all of them are too busy flicking their toes to produce any progeny, so hopes aren’t high for its longevity. But as Imogen rode through her Intermediate test with Roheryn Ruby, she was able to enjoy (?) a not-so-fleeting glimpse of one of the last remaining LSDEs in the wild. A nobler sight has surely never been seen, and the female mating call of “LOOOOOOSE HOOOOORSE” is music to any horse-spotter’s ears.
Quite remarkably, Imogen and the eleven-year-old Ruby managed to stay in the zone and on the pace, producing an impressive test for a score of 26.1. Imogen, with her impressive five-star results aboard top horse Ivar Gooden, has already cemented her title as One to Watch, but we’d like to join the Ruby fan club now too, please. Check out the video at your own peril — there’s officially no excuse to ever lose focus in a dressage test again once you’ve seen it.
Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the top 15 most popular videos shared on EN in 2019. The #4 spot goes to “What’s That Teddy?,” which garnered 8,701 views when it was originally posted on Sept. 27, 2019.
By this point, most of you will have encountered one of the most omnipresent faces on the global eventing circuit – the diminutive, wide-eyed face of Wilberry Wonder Pony (and his ever-expanding herd of Berry brethren, of course). But if you haven’t, you might have found yourself wondering why on earth some of the best riders in the world leave the start box with a stuffed animal attached to their number bib.
This season, the Event Rider Masters series has been a committed patron of the Willberry Wonder Pony charity, which helps to support vital research into the osteosarcoma that its remarkable founder, 17-year-old Hannah Francis, suffered through and ultimately passed away from. While pouring its resources into this research, Willberry also helps to grant wishes for equestrian enthusiasts suffering from serious illnesses.
The best bit? Eventers around the world have enthusiastically jumped on board in their support of the charity, which has snowballed in its reach since Hannah’s passing. Check out the ERM’s video, explaining their involvement with the charity this year and some of the riders who never leave the startbox without their own Berry pony on board.
Welcome to Twixtmas – or the Chrimbo Limbo, if you’re that way inclined – the aimless, in-the-middle bit in which none of us know what day it is, what we’re doing, or who we are. It’s a delicious sort of torture, frankly.
But for those who need something decisive to sink their teeth into, our friends at EquiRatings are currently providing just the sort of challenge we all need to pass these last few days of 2019. They’ve reached the final round of their 2019 Horse of the Year competition, and what a finale it is – Ingrid Klimke‘s SAP Hale Bob OLD goes up against Cathal Daniels‘ Rioghan Rua in a closely-fought battle for the collective heart of the global eventing community. Will ‘Bobby’, the double European champion and winner of Aachen CCI4*-S, take the title? Or will the small but fierce chestnut mare, who won the Bramham under-25 CCI4*-L and earned Ireland its first senior European medal – an individual bronze – since 1995.
It’s a tough one, we’ll grant you that. You’ve got two days to make your mind up – so in the meantime, rewatch these videos of the two contenders and try to pick your favourite.
Good luck and godspeed, friends.
Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the top 15 most popular videos shared on EN in 2019. The #6 spot goes to “Dressage for Dummies,” which garnered 7,290 views when it was originally posted on Nov. 8, 2019.
In today’s daily dose of weird, we bring you two guys dressed as a horse, attempting to outperform actual Grand Prix dressage horse, the late, great Sandro Boy. Australian dressage star Lyndal Oatley puts them through their (slightly sweaty) paces in this video, which truly needs to be watched after a beer or two for optimal value.
Tricky hooves, spinning donuts, and diagonal disco – Hamish and Andy make their way through all the sport’s toughest movements in pursuit of one goal: being sent to stud at the end of their illustrious career.
That’s cute and all, guys, but may we politely suggest a follow-up episode where you tackle a cross-country course? We think you’ll do GREAT.
One of Britain’s brightest talents has been sold in this winter’s most significant movement thus far, which comes as we close in on the January 15 deadline for Olympic transfers.
“Jayne McGivern and I are very sad to announce the sale of Quarrycrest Echo to continue his career with Toshiyuki Tanaka and Team Japan,” said Piggy French in a statement released on her social media channels. “Red has been an absolute superstar for both of us over the past few years, taking us all over the world to some of the biggest and best events in our sport.
“Firstly, I would like to thank Red for everything he has given me as my friend and partner in all the great days we enjoyed together. Secondly, I would like to thank Jayne for her tremendous support both past, present and future. She has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals after the last few years and we are both looking forward to many more years of success together. This was a very difficult decision for both of us but we would like to wish Toshi and Team Japan the very best of luck with him in 2020 and beyond. He has been an outstanding horse for Jayne and I and we sincerely hope he is the same for his new connections.”
Quarrycrest Echo, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Clover Echo x Royal China, by Cavalier Royale), has been a stalwart of the British team efforts over the last three seasons under Piggy. Their first appearance on the squad came at Aachen in 2017, where they finished ninth individually and fifth in the team competition. Later that summer, they headed to Strzegom for the European Championships, at which they competed as individuals, finishing 27th. In 2018, they contributed to British gold at the Tryon World Equestrian Games, finishing 10th individually, and in 2019 they were sixth at Aachen and 15th at the Luhmühlen European Championships, clinching team silver in the process. They also enjoyed success at the CCI5* level, most notably finishing fourth at the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Horse Trials.
“Red’s departure will without doubt leave a big whole in my yard but I am fortunate to have some lovely horses, both old and new, who I believe can step up to fill the gap he leaves behind,” continues the statement. “2020 is a huge year for me and everyone else in our sport and I am hugely excited and motivated to continue my preparations towards representing Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics. Thank you, Red, for everything.”
Though the sale of Quarrycrest Echo is undeniably an enormous milestone on the trail to Tokyo, the transfer comes as Piggy completes her most successful season yet — and, in fact, the most successful international season of any event rider thus far. Her formidable string at Maidwell Lodge Farm includes 10-year-old Brookfield Inocent, owned by John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn, who won Blenheim CCI4*-L this year on his level debut; Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira, with whom Piggy took her first CCI5* victory at Badminton this spring; Castletown Clover, owned by Susannah Paybody, who recorded top 10 finishes at Blenheim and Bramham this season; and Cooley Monsoon, owned by comedienne Jennifer Saunders, who stepped up to CCI4*-S this year and has finished fourth in both his runs at the level. Waiting in the wings is an exciting line-up of talent waiting to step up to the upper echelons, lead by Jayne McGivern’s Calling Card and John and Chloe Perry’s Brookfield Quality, both proving their prowess at the three-star level in 2019.
Team EN would like to wish Toshi Tanaka the best of luck in his new partnership and Piggy and her team continued success in 2020.
‘Tis the season … for high-profile horse transfers, that is. That’s because the FEI’s official deadline for horses changing hands ahead of next year’s Olympics is looming — interested buyers and sellers only have until the 15th of January to complete the transaction and reregister the horse in order to be eligible for the Games.
This tends to make for a flurry of movement in December, as deals are ironed out and announcements made. Sunday (15 December) proved to be a particularly big day at Michael Jung‘s Horb am Necker base, as three horses of varying levels made their way to new homes.
The most significant of these is Creevagh Cooley, the eleven-year-old mare with whom Michael finished third at Boekelo CCI4*-L in October – the mare’s first attempt at the level. Previously ridden and produced by Sweden’s Selma Hammarström, Michael took the reins this spring, stepping the Irish Sport Horse swiftly up to CCI4*-S with mixed success. Boekelo, however, proved that the inexperienced mare had improved exponentially through the year. Now, Creevagh Cooley will swap flags again, this time from German to Australian as she joins Andrew Hoy‘s string.
— Andrew Hoy (@HoyEventing) December 18, 2019
Eight-year-old Hanoverian Choclat will make his way to Ireland to be campaigned by Joseph Murphy after three successful seasons under both Michael and stable jockey Pietro Grandis. Though only competing at CCI3*-S currently, Choclat certainly looks to have an impressive future ahead of him: he first captured the public’s attention back in 2017, when he won a CCI2*-L at Strzegom on a finishing score of 15.2. Though he’s not quite dipped that low since, the Contendro I gelding has proven to be a consistent 20s-finisher, adding exciting depth to Joseph’s string, headed by new ride Cesar V.
Joining the departures list is eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse Journeyman, who has been competed exclusively through the 2* level by Italian rider Pietro Grandis under Michael’s tutelage, and who will now head to the U.S. to join Gabby Dickerson‘s string.
The boy is on fire: after scooping the top prize in Stuttgart’s indoor cross-country last month aboard catch ride Alcatraz, Ireland’s 23-year-old superstar Cathal Daniels has done the double, winning Friday night’s class in Geneva, Switzerland.
For much of the evening, it looked like a sure thing for Ireland — but the top spot wasn’t held by Cathal, who was to be the penultimate rider in the ring. Instead, it was second to go Padraig McCarthy, who rode an authoritative and economical round aboard last year’s winner, Tatiana Brent’s Rosemaber Lancuest, to a blazing time of 166.08, just seven seconds over the optimum time. The pair would be unsurpassable for most of the class, which featured sixteen quality horse-and-rider combinations — though several would give him a run for his money.
The Swiss team, who narrowly scooped their ticket to Tokyo at Boekelo in October, were out in force, proving that the influence of team trainer Andrew Nicholson is nothing to be sniffed at. Tiziana Realini and Toubleau du Rueire, best of the Swiss at the Dutch showcase event, added ten seconds to the optimum time to finish just behind Padraig, while up-and-comer Robin Godel and Grandeur de Lully CH once again belied the rider’s 21 years to execute a swift and professional performance. Though Robin, who represented Switzerland at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, the 2019 European Championships, and at several Nations Cups this year, would stop the clock at just over 162 seconds, a dislodged MIM clip at fence 25 added a further eight seconds to his time, shunting him just below teammate Tiziana in the standings. Nevertheless, if we’re going to use this winter’s indoor cross-country classes as educational viewing — and why shouldn’t we? — Robin’s round is certainly one to watch. Like trainer Andrew Nicholson, the young rider is proving that speed done well doesn’t necessarily look speedy – at its best, it can look buttery smooth and extraordinarily calculated.
Once again, leading Dutch rider Tim Lips brought forward seven-year-old Herby, who was so impressive at Le Lion d’Angers before his unfortunate early withdrawal at the final horse inspection. After a solid result at Paris’ indoor cross-country, the huge-striding Dutch-bred gelding, who also competes at the lower levels with his owner, produced the goods yet again to add eleven seconds to the optimum time and ultimately finish sixth. Our tip? Keep a very close eye on this horse in the 2020 season.
But as competitive rounds kept on coming, Padraig’s grasp on the title was unshaken — until the tail end of the class, that is. Exultant after victory at Stuttgart, Cathal Daniels proved his fledgling partnership with Sarah Hughes’ Alcatraz, ordinarily ridden by Oliver Townend, is a formidable one.
It was apparent from the off that Cathal had come here with one goal in mind, but his job wasn’t necessarily set to be an easy one. Green efforts over the first handful of fences cost the pair valuable seconds on the clock, which meant that Cathal couldn’t afford to waste any time turning between fences. By the time the pair met the ninth fence, which ushered them through the chute into Geneva’s close-quartered warm-up arena, Alcatraz had joined the party. The remainder of their round, which saw them tackle angled hedges, an airy, knockable barrel fence, and a series of MIM-enabled solid obstacles, gained in speed and conviction, and as they crossed the finish line, they were just three-and-a-half seconds over the 160-second optimum time, putting them on a final score of 164.
But it wasn’t over, and Cathal wouldn’t quite be able to celebrate yet. Last in the ring was to be popular Frenchman Karim Florent Laghouag, riding double-Europeans mount, former Geneva indoor cross-country victor, and last week’s Paris champion Punch de l’Esques. Unlike Cathal and Alcatraz, Karim and the enormously experienced gelding never lost a second, producing an electric start and turning almost telepathically throughout the course to deliver the only clear round under the optimum time, finishing on 154 seconds. But woe betide those who don’t keep a close eye on the time – or indeed, on the rulebook. Unlike regular cross-country, in which there’s a healthy window you can sit in below the optimum time, indoor cross-country requires you to attempt exactitude. Romping home six seconds below the time earned the French duo six penalties, and they were relegated to second place behind Cathal and Alcatraz.
The Geneva indoor cross-country class takes us into a holiday break in the action, which will resume on December 30th at the Liverpool International Horse Show in the United Kingdom. We’ll be bringing you all the action from the class — stay tuned! In the meantime, you can rewatch Geneva’s class in full here, or click here to watch individual rounds.
Who among us hasn’t had their life profoundly impacted for the better by a good Thoroughbred? In today’s video we meet one incredibly special example of the breed — 19-year-old Ruched, who left a career on the track in Australia behind him to become a therapy horse. Watch as he and rider Luke Eaton, who has cerebral palsy, navigate a dressage lesson and answer the question of whether there’s anything a Thoroughbred can’t do with a resounding ‘no.’
Do you know an OTTB who’s an outstanding citizen in his or her second career? Drop them in the comments!
It has been announced today that Germany’s Bettina Hoy will step down as coach of the Dutch eventing team after three years in the role. Her stint as trainer culminated in a tricky 2019 season, which saw the team fail to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“It has been mutually agreed by both parties that my contract as national trainer with Koninklijke Nederlandse Hippische Sportfederatie (KNHS) will not be extended beyond the end of 2019,” said Hoy in a statement. “We have also agreed that I should continue to coach a number of individual Dutch riders and support them in achieving their future goals in top-level eventing.”
“During the last three years I have learnt a lot, not just about the job of trainer and leading a team but also about myself, and I thank the KNHS for the great experience and opportunity. I look forward in the future to having not only more time to coach my private pupils and run clinics worldwide but also to spending more time in the saddle. Perhaps I can even achieve my dream of competing in dressage at Grand Prix level! Finally, I would like to wish my successor and the team all the best.”
Hoy will be superseded in her role by Andrew Heffernan, a long-time member of the Dutch squad. Based in Cheshire, England, Heffernan was part of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, and is a well-established trainer and coach in the United Kingdom, where he teaches out of Somerford Park Farm and possesses a Level 3 coaching certificate and is accredited as a British Eventing trainer. Heffernan’s appointment as Dutch team trainer will last until the end of 2020, at which point it will be reviewed.
“I was surprised when I was approached for this position, but I am really looking forward to it,” said Heffernan in a KNHS statement. “Coaching riders is something I really enjoy doing and I look forward to this opportunity. I will certainly continue to ride my own horses, but of course not at the selection trials, team competitions, and other important moments. Next year I will only keep a few of my better horses and in England there are plenty of opportunities to relocate them.”
Though the Dutch team hasn’t earned a ticket to Tokyo, they’re almost certain to possess two individual slots, which means that 2020 will still be a crucial year for Heffernan and the KNHS. Director Maarten van der Heijden expressed his positive outlook at the appointment of Heffernan, saying, “I am happy that we have found Andrew Heffernan willing to fill this position in the coming year. He is a good trainer and rider, but also a huge team player. Partly due to his vast experience – especially in England – he manages to send riders with confidence and good advice. As a member of the Dutch team, he has demonstrated this many times. The riders we have consulted with are also enthusiastic about the arrival of Heffernan.”