Well, 1 August, 2020, which was to be the first day of the Tokyo Olympics, has come and gone and incredibly the Olympics were postponed. Never before has something like this happened and such is the disaster of COVID 19. The laws of nature are unstoppable; however, so too is the world of we the people, and our dreams and our pursuit of high achievement and our recognition of other athletes from other nations all over the world. The Olympics might be one year late, but here they come and better late than never. The Olympics are now scheduled to start on 23 July, 2021.
So, back to the Australian eventing riders and dressage riders in their amazing journey to, firstly, be selected by the Australian selectors to make the team for Tokyo, and secondly, to have a jolly good look at just how good we Australians are and what our chances are of success.
The selection process is so tough and not for the faint-hearted. There are three riders and their horses only selected for the eventing team and three riders and their horses only selected for the dressage team. So tough and so cruel for so many people who have tried so hard to pursue their dreams of riding for their country.
Back in February, when the Games were just five months away, the Australian eventers were definitely starting to muscle up and the top 10 riders probably did represent where the final three team members were going to be selected from. Eight months on and not a lot has changed on the rider rankings; however, when it comes to the horses, we may well see some younger ones, which were not going to be ready for Olympic participation this year, move up to seriously challenge for team selection in 2021.
Conversely, a few of the older horses who were still at the top of their game this year have just started slipping, and sadly, some of these will drift away from the top lines simply because time and age impacts on athletes. In eventing and in dressage, the athlete is the horse.
So, following is my top 10 Australian combinations. The formula I have used is purely mathematical and represents the Australian combinations who have had the best scores in a recent 4**** 3DE (CCI4*L) or a 5***** 3DE (CCI5*L). Keep in mind that the CCI5*L is the toughest three-day event you can do in the world, however, the Olympics are actually a CCI4*L competition. This is so as to allow some of the less experienced nations to compete at the Olympics with a greater degree of safety.
My ranking of these Australian riders has not taken into consideration how difficult each individual event was when compared with other events, how reliable a combination is, how sound a horse or rider combination seems to be, and how suitable some of the horses may or may not be allowing for the fact that Tokyo will be hot and humid, and that the cross-country course will be a little shortened. All of these intangible considerations do change who will be picked and who will not, and this very difficult part of the selection process is left to the Australian selectors.