Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressage: Olympics: Australian Dressage Team aims for Olympic qualification this week

The Australian Dressage Team’s bid for Olympic qualification got underway on Friday 28 October at the Australian Dressage Championships, Sydney International Equestrian Centre.

The Grand Prix CDI-W class served as the first leg of the Dressage Regional Olympic qualifier. Due to quarantine restrictions, the qualifier will be held in two parts, one in each hemisphere, as riders and horses are based in both Australasia and Europe. The Sydney competition was the first leg whilst the second leg will be in Ermelo (NED) on 2 November.

The qualifier is open to teams from the FEI Olympic Groups F (Africa and Middle East) and G (South East Asia and Oceania). Three nations – Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa – are seeking Olympic qualification. The two best placed teams overall will join Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the USA, which have already qualified.

The same Ground Jury will judge at the two events. The panel consists of FEI 5* judges Stephen Clarke (GBR), who will also be the President of the Ground Jury at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Gotthilf Riexinger (GER) and Susan Hoevenaars (AUS), plus FEI 4* judges Mariëtte Sanders-van Gansewinkel (NED) and Raphaël Saleh (FRA).

On Friday Australia was represented by Rachael Sanna on Jaybee Alabaster and Chantal Wigan on Ferero, with the remaining two Australian team members (Mary Hanna on Sancette and Lyndal Oatley on Potifar) to compete in the Ermelo event on Wednesday. The full South African team will also compete in Ermelo.

Sanna was the best performed rider winning the class on 69.11%. Wigan finished the class in 11th position overall scoring 62.47%.

New Zealand fielded their full team in Sydney. The New Zealand Team finished with a total score of 194.77. Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello posted the highest percentage for the Kiwis (66.13%) followed by Vanessa Way on KH Arvan (65.51%) then Nicky Pope on Fabarchie (63.13%). The discard score was Shiwon Green on Gosh (61.36%).

“We were really really happy with our performance,” commented New Zealand’s Louisa Hill following their team performance in Sydney.

“It is now up to the riders in Ermelo,” said Equestrian Australia High Performance Manager Brett Mace. “We managed a solid result in Sydney so it depends on the performance of our second two riders and of course the South African team.”

A notable absence from the Australian Team was Brett Parbery and Victory Salute. Parbery was not available for selection due to an injury sidelining Victory Salute for the remainder of the year.

Results will be posted in the Equestrian Australia web site following the competition.

Results for the Grand Prix CDI-W Sydney 28 October can be found here

Sunday, October 30, 2011


The US gold medal winning Jumping team at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico (L to R) Kent Farrington, Christine McCrea, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward. McCrea also clinched the Individual title yesterday ahead of Madden in silver-medal position.  Photo: FEI/

Guadalajara (MEX), 30 October 2011

American Jumping riders showed their class yesterday when adding Individual gold and silver to the team title they claimed last Thursday at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.  The team victory was utterly convincing, as all four riders kept a clean sheet to leave them with a final tally of just 2.90.

And yesterday Christine McCrea rose from runner-up spot to snatch the Individual title from team-mate Beezie Madden who paid a very heavy price for a single time fault in the second round of the decider.
Individual gold medal Show Jumping winner for USA, Christine McCrea and Romantovich Take One at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. (
Despite their obvious strengths, there was plenty of pressure on the US side from the outset, as the defending Olympic champions had not yet qualified for London 2012.  So Thursday’s result was more than pleasing for US Chef d’Equipe, George Morris, who, typically, was as impressed by his side’s skill in the ring as he was by what they achieved.  “It’s the way they rode. I'm an ideological horseman. I'm not interested in it unless it’s beautifully ridden,” he said after Madden (Coral Reef Via Volo), McCrea (Romantovich Take One), Kent Farrington (Uceko) and McLain Ward (Antares) delivered the goods.

The Brazilian side of Alvaro Miranda Neto (AD Norson), Bernardo Alves (Bridgit), Karina Johannpeter (SRF Dragonfly de Joter) and Rodrigo Pessoa (HH Ashley) claimed silver while Mexico’s Antonio Maurier (Callao), Alberto Michan (Rosalia la Silla), Enrique Gonzalez (Criptonite) and Daniel Michan (Ragna T) took the bronze.

“I have to be honest, it was a lot of stress, this Olympic qualification,” Ward said afterwards. “I felt a little more pressure today and yesterday than I have in past Olympic Games. But it was obviously a fantastic event and I think this is a great team. We came here with a very serious plan to not only try and win but obviously to try to qualify for the Olympic Games. To not qualify would have been a disaster for us. We’re proud of that, and everyone pulled together. We have a great team around us, not only George, and of course pretty good horses so that makes the job a little bit easier,” he added.  It was a superb result, as, for the first time since 1975, the US claimed Pan-American gold in all three disciplines.

Such was the quality of the US performance, that Madden was only competing on her own behalf when jumping last for the US side, as her team-mates had already clinched the team title.  And with another lovely clear from the 13 year old Coral Reef Via Volo, she led the way into the Individual final with a zero score.

But championship debutante McCrea was close behind on a score of 0.88 with the bold-jumping 11 year old Romantovich Take One.  And bolstering the US position going into the Individual fine, which was restricted to the top three riders from each nation lying within the leading 25, was US team pathfinder McLain Ward with Antares F in third.

There wasn’t a fence between the top five as the second and deciding round got underway in the afternoon, and Madden and her Belgian-bred horse continued to demonstrate the jumping prowess that gave them the advantage they established in Wednesday’s opening Speed class.  But it was the clock that punished them in the end as, to the near-disbelief of the spectators, they over-ran the time-allowed of 66 seconds by an excruciating 7/100ths of a second for a single time fault.

So when McCrea completed her fifth clear of the tournament, she overtook her team-mate for the title.

Madden was gracious in defeat. "It cost me a lot," she said, referring to her time fault. "But thank god I have a strong team here and Chris was to take it up - I am happy it was an American (who won), we were still Gold and Silver and with the Team Gold it was a fantastic week for us so no complaints."  Ward, meanwhile, lost his grip on the bronze with one rail down so it was Brazil’s Bernardo Alves who stood on the third step of the medal-winners podium with a foot-perfect performance from Bridgit.

"I did not anticipate that, I'm sure Beezie didn't anticipate that," said McCrea on finding herself with the gold medal around her neck. "It just happened. That's sports.  My overall impression was this was a fabulous week," she continued. "It was great. Our country needed this - we needed it," she added.

And her team manager, George Morris, agreed. "We had a great week here, we had a great unit of people, they get along well - they're lovely people," he pointed out. "We had a great chemistry of people, this club, this whole venue - this is just as nice as any competition I've ever been to at any level anywhere... the atmosphere was great.”

With a clean sweep of team gold and all but two of the Individual medals on offer, the 2011 Pan-American Games will go down in the record books as the most successful ever for US riders.

Team: GOLD - USA 2.90 – Uceko (Kent Farrington), Coral Reef Via Volo (Beezie Madden), Romantovich Take One (Christine McCrea), Antares F (McLain Ward); SILVER – Brazil 11.58 – AD Norson (Alvaro Miranda Neto), Bridgit (Bernardo Alves), SRF Dragonfly de Joter (Karina Johannpeter), HH Ashley (Rodrigo Pessoa); BRONZE – Mexico – Callao (Antonio Maurer), Rosalia la Silla (Alberto Michan), Criptonite (Enrique Gonzalez), Ragna T (Daniel Michan).

Individual: GOLD – Romantovich Take One (Christine McCrea) USA 0.88; SILVER – Coral Reef Via Volo (Beezie Madden) USA 1.00; BRONZE – Bridgit (Bernardo Alves) BRA 2.09.

Facts and Figures: The Jumping course designer was Javier Fernandez.
16 nations took part in Jumping: Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, USA, and Venezuela.
11 nations participated in the Jumping team competition – USA, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Ecuador, Uruguay.
Three teams qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games: USA, Mexico and Chile. Colombia and Argentina qualified two individual riders each; Bermuda qualified one rider.
US Chef d’Equipe, George Morris – “We have lovely horses down here - the support staff that helps each of these riders are real professionals. It's all preparation."

Individual gold medalist Christine McCrea (USA) speaking after Thursday’s team victory – “I’m just really, really proud of us as a team. We really came together. We came here with a goal and we achieved it, and I’m just really proud.”