PLUS: ROHAN LUXMOORE’S NEW MOUNT, ON THE ROAD WITH HAYLEY FRIELICK, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S VISION, PROBLEM SOLVING WITH KERRY MACK, QATAR’S 5-STAR EQUINE RESORT, HOPE BEERLING’S AMERICAN DREAM, MOLLY LINES & TADPOLE, HORSES IN THE MOVIES, & MAXINE BRAIN ON CHOKE IN HORSES.
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHER
IT’S ALL HAPPENING OVERSEAS
BY HEATH RYAN
WILL MATTHEW BUILDS PARIS MOMENTUM
BY ADELE SEVERS
PETE COMISKEY NAILS THIRD GOLD BUCKLE
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
ROGER SMITTEN BY A VISION
BY EQ LIFE
HOW TO RESOLVE COMMON PROBLEMS
BY DR KERRY MACK
HOPE BEERLING’S AMERICAN DREAM
BY ADELE SEVERS
ON THE ROAD WITH HAYLEY & ‘NELSON’
BY ADELE SEVERS
FANTASY FLICK GLAMORISED FRIESIANS
BY SUZY JARRATT
LH VALENTINO STEPS UP FOR ROHAN LUXMOORE
BY ADELE SEVERS
THE DREAM STOPOVER
BY DAWN GIBSON-FAWCETT
Off the Track
MOLLY & TADPOLE THRIVE IN THE BIG POND
BY ADELE SEVERS
WHEN HORSES CHOKE
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
Maree Tomkinson and Imagine II flying the Australian flag in Wiesbaden, Germany. Image by LL Foto.
The Virtus Global Games team got their ticket to France, Aussie eventers are vying for an Olympic slot in Ireland, and the Australian flag flies high in the German dressage arena; it’s all happening overseas this month. Back home, the Olympic and Paralympic selectors have been named.
Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend are part of the Australian team competing for an Olympic slot at Millstreet Three Day Event in Ireland from 1-4 June. Image by Boots and Hooves Photography.
Thank goodness the Virtus Global Games Fundraiser is now over and a whopping thank you to the incredible support of so many Australians donating goods and services and then so many of you bidding on the fundraiser Nominate auction. Thank you again.
We raised $88,875. Holy smoke! Who would have thought! We had aimed for $70,000 and thank goodness we exceeded that as we had not done our budgeting estimations as accurately as we thought and really did need the full amount raised. Thank you, thank you to everyone who supported this fundraiser and good luck to the Australian Virtus Equestrian Team of Andrew Driffield, Sarah Sherwood and Sui Watts. They are due to leave for France on 1 June for the competition that runs on 8-9 June at the Stade Equestre du Sichon at Vichy.
ALL EYES ON MILLSTREET
Talking about overseas competitions, all of Australia will also be focused on the Millstreet Three Day Event in Ireland from 1-4 June. Australia has to come first or second to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics (first or second of the non-qualified nations, therefore excluding New Zealand as they qualified at the FEI World Championships last year). We are throwing everything we have at this competition and the team stepping up for Australia is Andrew Hoy riding Vassily de Lassos, Shenae Lowings riding Bold Venture, Kevin McNab riding Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend and Shane Rose riding Dotti. Sam Lyle riding BF Valour is the reserve combination.
This Millstreet Three Day Event is just so critical. On paper we should win convincingly. However, in eventing you just never know. There is a whole world of pain in front of us if things don’t go well at Millstreet. A bit unbelievable that we could be struggling to qualify for the Paris Olympics when we are the Team Silver Medallists from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Our non-qualification is due to a bit of a disaster at the 2022 FEI World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy. Everyone slips up now and then. Ouch! Good luck to this team, and we will all be watching with bated breath.
MEET THE AUSTRALIAN SELECTORS
At long last the Australian selectors in all four Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of Dressage, Para-Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping have been announced. This is a critical and long overdue step forward. Surely this process needs revision as theoretically Olympic selection qualification in all disciplines started on 1 January this year and goes to mid-2024. This is assuming that the criteria is similar to previous Olympic selection criteria.
The Australian selectors are:
• Maryjane Crabtree
• Dirk Dijkstra
• Lone Joergensen
• Stephen Bow
• Claudia Hodson
• Kate Wallis (Development Selector)
• Georgia Widdup
• Colleen Brook
• Gavin Chester
• David Dobson
• Susan Chandler
• Gary Lung
• Veronica Steward
Dirk Dijkstra, pictured here with Royalito, has been named as an Olympic selector for dressage. Image by Roger Fitzhardinge.
This is a very interesting collection of people.
In Dressage, both Dirk Dijkstra and Lone Joergensen are new and both are also Grand Prix dressage riders. It will be fascinating to see if this sort of qualification to an Australian selector changes philosophies and policies which can impact positively on improved Australian performances.
In Eventing, Stephen Bow and Claudia Hodson are event riders who have ridden at the top end of the sport back in the day. Both have been involved from a “training to be a selector” point of view for the last 12 months. Kate Wallis is listed as a development selector. I think this means that Kate is in training to become an Australian selector in the future. So possibly, Kate does not have a vote in the selection process at the moment. I need to check up on that. Georgia Widdup has been the Chair of selectors for eventing for a number of years now. Georgia has been instrumental in introducing and using EquiRatings as a selection tool. This in turn has introduced a very objective evaluation of riders and their likelihood of success. You can never completely rule out subjective selection because factors such as horse soundness, rider health etc. can very much influence an outcome on the day. Nevertheless, the introduction of EquiRatings and current statistics has been a big step forward.
In Show Jumping, all three selectors in Colleen Brook, Gavin Chester and David Dobson have ridden at the top in this discipline in Australia, with both Colleen and Gavin having represented Australia at Olympics and/or World Championships.
This will be very interesting to see if personalities as tough as these three, and as in touch with top performances and the management of top horses and people, are able to promote in a positive way Australian show jumping results at Olympics and World Championships. As an enthusiastic spectator of Australian show jumping, I do feel like it is maturing here and getting very close to challenging the show jumping world in the international arena.
In Para-Dressage, the selectors are a very interesting mix. Gary Lung is a Grand Prix dressage rider in his own right. Veronica Steward is an eventing judge and also an official steward for dressage, para-dressage and eventing. Both Gary and Veronica were selectors for the FEI World Championships last year, when Australian High Performance decided not to send a para-dressage team to Denmark. The public outcry was so deafening that this decision was reversed by Equestrian Australia (EA). So, very interesting to note that Australian selectors and Australian High Performance are two different bodies. My feeling is that both Gary and Veronica will be very much more battle experienced and much more likely to strongly represent the Australian para-dressage riders.
“At long last the Australian selectors… have been announced.”
The third para-dressage selector who is in for her first cycle of selecting is Susan Chandler. Susan is also a tough character, which she will need to be. Australian High Performance have based their programs around the Australian para-dressage riders being very likely to achieve a podium finish. That is, bring home medals from Paralympics and World Championships.
The Australian High Performance Strategic Plan, which can be found on the EA website, clearly maps out an expectation of the para-dressage and the eventing disciplines bringing home two Olympic medals and two Paralympic medals from Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. So, the pressure is on and especially so for the para-dressage selectors.
Of course, the selectors for all disciplines will base their policies around the selection criteria, which is not yet published and available. The criteria is always tough reading and is not read carefully by a lot of Australian riders in contention for Olympic selection until it is too late. Not understanding the selection criteria does – and has – cost some riders their opportunity to ride for Australia. The selection policies will appear on the EA website any day now and in my opinion are well overdue. Selection performances from 1 January this year are expected to count for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Just completed on the weekend of 26-29 May was the CDI4* dressage competition at Wiesbaden, Germany. The best of the best German riders were all there with the Grand Prix classes going to Isabell Werth and Dorothee Schneider and other household German names. With this competition was a young horse competition and again it was expected that the winners would be Germans.
MAREE FLIES THE FLAG
Well, in the Six-Year-Old Young Horse class, that was not the case. Maree Tomkinson from Australia flew the flag for us on her and Susan Gorst’s horse, Imagine II. In the first round, Maree and Imagine II were brilliant and placed second! In the second round, Maree and Imagine II were even more brilliant and placed first overall! As far as I know, this is the first time a young horse class in Germany of any significance has been won by an Australian. Well done, Maree Tomkinson, well done, Susan Gorst, and of course, a super well done to the mare Imagine II. Imagine II is by the stallion Ibiza, who carries the bloodlines of Vivaldi, Jazz and Contango. Imagine II is out of a mare called St Moritz, who carries the genetics of Sandro Hit and De Niro, and unexpectedly, the jumping stallion, Ramiro Z.
Imagine II and Maree won the Four-Year-Old Young Horse class here in Australia at Dressage & Jumping with the Stars (DJWTS) in 2021, scoring 87% in the first round and 89.8% in the second round. In young horse classes Maree was unbeaten on Imagine II in Australia and at the Victorian Dressage Festival later in 2021 in the Five-Year-Old Young Horse class, Imagine II and Maree scored 93.2% in the first round and 88.8% in the second round! So now Maree has gone on to win the Six-Year-Old Young Horse class at the CDI4* show at Wiesbaden, Germany.
A whopping big congratulations to Maree from everyone here in Australia!
Maree Tomkinson and Imagine II competing at DJWTS in 2021. Image by Simon Scully.
So that means that Imagine II will be a 15-year-old come the Brisbane 2032 Olympics. That is perfect! We so need some brave dressage souls to pioneer Australia into podium results at the Olympics come Brisbane 2032. Maree Tomkinson and Imagine II right this moment would have to be a real ray of sunshine for Australian dressage and Brisbane.
That’s it for this month, a big results month coming up for next month. Have the eventers qualified for Paris?