Boekelo First Horse Inspection: All Pass After Two Holds

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Welcome to every eventer’s favourite week of the year: it’s Military Boekelo time, and we’re in for one heck of a week at the Netherlands’ feature event. Not only is Boekelo the finale of the FEI Nations Cup series, it’s also a major focal point for riders hoping to gain their Tokyo qualification before the 2019 season wraps. But the CCIO4*-L team competition is going to be our focal point this week: there’s one last Olympic ticket up for grabs, which will go to the highest-placed unqualified nation in the Nations Cup standings at the end of the week, and it’s a chance for us to see the new Olympic format in action. And that format? Well, it’s a serious change from what we’re used to, so we’ll be bringing you a primer on what to expect — and who to keep an eye on.

Joseph Murphy and Cesar V. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But the first order of business, as usual, was the first horse inspection, held this afternoon. If you happen to be a trucking type, and if you found yourself motoring down the N18 motorway a few hours ago, you might have been distracted on your travels — because just below you, tucked into the trees, a host of nations were parading their horses down the trot strip as traffic roared past. Unfazed, they presented to the ground jury of Jane Tolley (GBR), Stuart Bishell (NZL), and Katrin Eichinger-Kniely (AUT), and we’re delighted to report that all 98 combinations were accepted into the competition proper.

But that isn’t to say that the day was without its dramas. Two horses were held — the Netherlands’ Janneke Boonzaaijer‘s ACSI Champ de Tailleur and Padraig McCarthy‘s new mount Leonidas II, for Ireland, were sent to the holding box, though both duly passed upon reinspection.

Michael Jung and fischerRocana. Photo by William Carey.

In a departure from the norm, Boekelo has opted to put all the team riders consecutively in the order of go, so tomorrow’s dressage will be almost entirely centred around the Nations Cup competition. Germany has been drawn first in the order, and they lead the way with a formidable combination — Michael Jung brings forward his double Kentucky champion fischerRocana, back in the spotlight after a year-long hiatus. The Netherlands — one of the teams on the hunt for an Olympic qualification — will come forward second, followed by the Belgians, hot on their tails for that coveted ticket. The all-female British team has been drawn seventh, and will be spearheaded by Laura Collett and Dacapo, while Tokyo hopefuls Switzerland are the penultimate draw in eleventh.

Team USA has been drawn in twelfth place, with Jennie Brannigan acting as team pathfinder with Stella ArtoisLiz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver will be the second of the U.S. competitors, while Tamie Smith and Mai Baum act as anchors. Matt Flynn and Wizzerd hold down the fort as team reserves, but unlike next year’s Olympics, they’ll be allowed to contest the competition in its entirety, rather than waiting in the wings to be substituted in as needed.

Team USA is out in force in Boekelo. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Dressage gets underway tomorrow morning at 9.30 a.m. local time/8.30 a.m. BST/3.30 a.m. EST. Want to keep an eye on Team USA? Their times are as follows:

  • Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois: 10.47 a.m. local/9.47 a.m. BST/4.47 a.m. EST
  • Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver: 12.26 p.m. local/11.26 a.m. BST/6.26 a.m. EST
  • Tamie Smith and Mai Baum: 15.02 p.m. local/14.o2 p.m. BST/9.02 a.m. EST
  • Matt Flynn and Wizzerd: 10.54 a.m. local/9.54 a.m. BST/4.54 a.m. EST (FRIDAY)

Thursday’s dressage times can be found here – asterisks denote team riders, of which there are three per nation under the new Olympic format – while Friday’s can be found here.

Following from afar? Then you’re in luck – you’ll be able to watch all the action via FEITV. Keep a pint of Grolsch on hand at all times for the authentic Boekelo experience.

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