PLUS: HEATH RYAN EYES PARIS QUALIFICATIONS, TOM QUILTY WINNER ASHLEY COLE, QUIET ACHIEVER CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, PONY DRESSAGE WITH ALISON GILL, PREVIEWING THE YOUNG HORSE CHAMPS, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S HEADSHAKER, KERRY MACK ON PERFECTING PIROUETTES, KEEPING HORSES ON SAFARI, LADY GAGA & DJANGO UNCHAINED.
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHER
LET THE QUALIFYING GAMES BEGIN
BY HEATH RYAN
THE EQUINE MAGIC BEHIND OUTBACK SPECTACULAR
BY ADELE SEVERS
FROM BACKSTEP TO DRIVING FORCE
BY ADELE SEVERS
FAB FOUR EARN OUR TICKET TO PARIS
BY ADELE SEVERS
AUSSIES ON THE WORLD STAGE AT ERMELO
BY ADELE SEVERS
AN ENDURING PARTNERSHIP
BY ADELE SEVERS
‘DJANGO UNCHAINED’ BEHIND THE CURTAIN
BY SUZY JARRATT
JEREMY HAS ME SCRATCHING MY HEAD
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN, THE QUIET ACHIEVER
BY MIM COLEMAN
BEING A HORSE IN AFRICA
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
ALISON & DENALI RAISE THE PONY PROFILE
BY ROGER FITZHADINGE
THE LADY WHO LOVES HORSES
BY BERNARD BALE
BY DR KERRY MACK
Kenya Wilson and Sandros Salute MW are one of many Australian Eventing combinations with part of their Paris Olympic MER ticked off. Image by Michelle Terlato Photography.
It’s time. Already the established top Australian riders in the four disciplines of Dressage, Eventing, Show Jumping and Para-Dressage are making sure they have a plan to be qualified for Paris. There are necessary qualifications that are required by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) for Paris for all riders from all nations.
Bill Levett and Huberthus AC are a UK-based Aussie Eventing combination that will likely aim to ride into Paris contention. Image by Boots and Hooves Photography.
This official qualification period started on 1 January 2023 and finishes on 24 June 2024 for Eventing, Jumping and Dressage. The Paralympics for some reason has a different qualification period, starting 1 January 2022 and closing on 19 June 2024.
In amongst this very small population of elite Australian riders, there is a growing awareness of whether the horses that they currently have are good enough to be selected for the Australian Olympic or Paralympic team. Already, this elite group of riders is assessing how many other riders are emerging contenders for team selection and how they compare against themselves. It’s that time.
There is another group of riders who are on the fringe. They are looking at their first time as possible team selection contenders and this group tends to lack confidence. This lack of confidence often impacts negatively on the process of qualifying and the timing of their runs to coincide with final selections. These fringe group members often fail to make the necessary plans early enough to give themselves the best possible chance.
So, over the next couple of months I will try and target the riders who are most likely to be in the final running for Australian team selection in each of the four Olympic and Paralympic disciplines. I will also try and acknowledge some individuals in the fringe groups, and in so doing, perhaps galvanise them into being more focused right now in the lead-up to final Australian selection trials.
There is a third group which I haven’t mentioned. This will be a group of riders who are very, very experienced and who currently are seemingly not in the running. These riders actually do have enough time to bring up a horse – one which is below the current radar but who is nevertheless talented and with an experienced pilot in the saddle could evolve more quickly than anyone could believe – and produce winning form in the final Olympic or Paralympic trials and by the skin of their teeth come from nowhere to being on the Australian team for Paris next year. Interesting times.
“The fly in the ointment is that the Australian selectors will also issue their own selection criteria.”
So below is the minimum performance a rider must achieve, or as the FEI calls it, a Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) a rider must produce before they can be eligible to be selected by their country to go to the Paris Olympics. This MER has to be achieved three times – or two times if you do a CCI5*L (three day event/long format five-star). The only CCI5*L in the southern hemisphere is at Adelaide Equestrian Festival. One or two of these results can appear in 2023, however, at least one of the results has to appear in 2024. All results if produced in 2024 are acceptable.
So, just because riders do not have any Olympic qualifications just yet, does not mean they are not in due time going to come into Australian selection consideration later next year. This column, however, is only targeting Australian riders here in Australia and based overseas who have partly fulfilled their MER for Paris and on these partly fulfilled qualifications this column will rank their Paris Olympic chances at this point in time.
The following is the FEI MER qualifications necessary for riders to achieve before they can be considered for selection by their national selectors to represent their country. So, all Australian riders have to study this boring and slightly complicated compulsory qualification before they can be considered by the Australian selectors. The fly in the ointment is that the Australian selectors will also issue their own selection criteria and it should have been up on the Equestrian Australia (EA) website on 1 January this year. It’s not.
It is possible for the Australian selectors to produce selection criteria that is more difficult to achieve than the FEI selection criteria. This certainly has happened historically with the Australian Dressage selectors producing criteria more difficult than the FEI and it has caused serious contention and difficulties in getting an Australian Olympic team together. Absolutely crazy in my opinion. Nevertheless, Australian riders need to really carefully read the national selection criteria as soon as it becomes available. Usually, this selection criteria is really boring but let me tell you, it is just so critical if you are even slightly in contention.
The following is the FEI qualification criteria, which has to be met and is compulsory for all eventing riders the world over to qualify for the Paris Olympics 2024.
• One (1) qualifying result at a CCI5*-L (three day event/long format five-star); or
• One (1) qualifying result in a CCI4*-L (three day event/long format four-star) AND 1 qualifying result in a CCI4*-S (one day event/long format four-star).
• Plus, one (1) qualifying result in a CCI4*-S or 4*L or 5*L to be obtained after 1 January 2024 and on or before 24 June 2024 (the “Confirmation Result”).
An FEI qualifying result (MER) is achieved by completing the above Competitions within the minimum parameters of an all-round performance, with:
• Dressage test: Not less than fifty-five percent (55%). Dressage good marks (no more than forty-five (45) penalty points);
• Cross Country test: clear (0) round or 11 penalty points on Cross Country Obstacles, not more than 75 seconds over the optimum Cross Country phase time. At CCI-L 5*, the maximum time by which the optimum time may be exceeded is 100 seconds;
• Jumping Test: Not more than sixteen (16) jumping penalties.
So, fulfilling this FEI qualifying criteria is the big consideration for all Australian eventing riders at this moment. What we are doing below is producing a long list of 12 Australian riders who do have some of the Paris qualifications fulfilled and at the moment represent the top 12 best qualifying scores. Part of the above FEI qualification criteria states that some or all of the qualifying has to happen next year 2024. So no one at this point in time is able to be fully qualified.
Here is Ryan’s Rave’s take on the evolving Australian longlist which will progress over the next 12 months. I have named 12 riders.
“Goodness gracious, Australia so needs him.”
Shane Rose and Virgil secured the first part of their Paris MER at Adelaide five-star this year. Image by Michelle Terlato Photography for Adelaide Equestrian Festival.
1. Shane Rose and Virgil have 28.5 penalties on the board at the Adelaide CCI5*L on 20/04/2023. A score of 28.5 penalties at an Olympics would contribute to an Australian team gold medal. That is a cracking score and if we can fill the Australian team up with combinations that can do this type of score, we are in for a very exciting Paris Olympics. Shane has to produce another CCI4*S or CCI4*L or CCI5*L competition score in 2024 to meet the FEI qualification criteria. So of course, he just really needs a CCI4*S with a good score and Shane and Virgil are good to go. On top of all of this, the horses have to be in good health and sound as does the rider. Virgil will be rising 19 years of age at the Paris Olympics. He is our standout horse being an Eventing team silver medallist from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The big question here is can Virgil maintain his amazing soundness and good health for another Olympics? Goodness gracious, Australia so needs him, but this will certainly be Virgil’s last Olympics if he can make it! Shane does have some younger four-star horses which will provide back up. These younger horses are not listed here because they have not yet started to post FEI performances ahead of the following 11 riders.
2. Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend scored 32.2 in the CCI4*S at Kilguilkey House International Horse Trials in Ireland on 29/07/2023. The pair will now aim for a CCI4*L qualification later this year. Kevin is based in England and rode Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to be part of the Australian eventing team’s silver medal. So, a very experienced Australian rider from the Northern Hemisphere making his presence felt.
3. Andrew Cooper and Hey Arnold have a score of 32.9 penalties from the Tamborine CCI4*S competition, posted on 19/02/2023. Andrew is a very powerful and experienced Australian competitor based in Queensland. This would be his first Olympics if he can hold this ranking.
4. Sophia Hill and Humble Glory posted a score of 33.5 penalties at Werribee CCI4*S on 2/02/2023. Sophia has also posted a score of 40.9 at Adelaide CCI5*L on 20/04/2023. So this has gone a long way to getting all the qualifications possible for 2023 and Sophia and Humble Glory only need one CCI4*S next year. To hold down No. 3 position, Sophia and Humble Glory probably do need to improve these scores as other riders start posting qualifying scores that may well challenge. Nevertheless, Sophia Hill and Humble Glory have started well. I personally think that the scores relating to the CCI5*L or the CCI4*L in the qualifications at the end of the day will be what the selectors prioritise. Sophia has 40.9 penalties from the Adelaide CCI5*L, which was a really great effort and secured her third place at the only CCI5*L in the southern hemisphere. I do think, however, that 40.9 penalties is a long way off Virgil and Shane’s score of 28.5 penalties. I think for the Australian team to challenge for a gold medal at Paris, we are going to need three combinations to all go under 30 penalties. So, I think these scores are yet to come. Nevertheless, this is a very solid start and I do think Sophia and Humble Glory are going to make their presence felt on the final Paris selections.
5. Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture have posted a score of 34.7 penalties at the Adelaide CCI4*S on 20/04/2023. Shenae and Bold Venture did win the Melbourne CCI4*L in 2022 on a magnificent score of 25.3 penalties, however 2022 does not count for Paris qualifications. This combination clearly has the potential to finish a three-day event with sub-30 penalties and go so far as to challenge Shane Rose and Virgil. Very exciting. For Paris selection, however, it will likely end up being those who have fulfilled the selection criteria with the lowest scores. You will receive no consideration for potential. My tip is that Shenae and Bold Venture will post a very good score before the selection qualification period is over. The qualification period ends on 24 June 2024.
Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture. Image by Boots and Hooves Photography.
6. David Middleton and WEC In The Money have posted a score of 35.3 penalties at Wandin CCI4*S on 18/03/2023. David is a fantastic competitor and as tough as tough. David bred WEC In The Money and this is a wonderful story. David has ridden for Australia in the Eventing team at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in 2002. So that is 20 odd years ago! Go David.
Dave Middleton and WEC In The Money achieved part of their Paris MER in the four-star at Wandin this year (image captured at Ballarat International Horse Trials). Image by Equisoul Photography.
7.Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG have posted a score of 35.5 penalties at Melbourne CCI4*L on 8/06/2023. Olivia won this Melbourne event and she does represent one of our young superstars charging into selection contention. Can she make the Australian Paris Olympic team? Olivia is a very good rider.
Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG won the CCI4*L at Melbourne this year and collected part of their Paris MER along the way. Image by Andrea Dunn Photography.
8. Bill Levett and Huberthus AC have posted a score of 35.5 penalties at Montelibretti CCI4*S on 9/03/2023. Bill is one of few Australian riders based overseas that have started their campaigns qualifying for Paris. I do expect the individual bronze medallist and team silver medallist from Tokyo, Andrew Hoy, to make an appearance at some stage. I do expect perhaps two other Australian riders based in the UK to make their presence felt before the end of the Paris qualification period.
9. Kenya Wilson and Sandros Salute have posted a score of 36.7 penalties at Brigadoon CCI4*S on 1/04/2023. Kenya also has a score of 47.3 penalties from Adelaide CCI5*L on 20/04/2023. So this combination is well and truly on the way to being properly qualified for the Paris Olympics. Kenya at the moment is the only Australian rider based in Western Australia. Of course, Western Australia is also the home of Sonja Johnson who was part of the Australian Eventing team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where Australia won a team silver medal. Australia sourcing riders out of Western Australia is something that we do. Good luck, Kenya.
10.Molly Lines and Tadpole have posted a score of 37 penalties at Ballarat CCI4*S on 5/05/2023. Personally, I have a hard time putting a face to Molly, which is probably because I am so old and Molly is just 19. Ballarat CCI4*S was Molly’s first international four-star event and she won it. Well done, Molly, you are now playing hardball in the big arena. Lots and lots of luck.
Nineteen-year-old Molly Lines and eleven-year-old Thoroughbred Tadpole. Image by Jay Town for Racing Photos.
11.Cathryn Herbert and Wimborne Constable posted a score of 37.4 penalties at Camden CCI4*S on 8/04/2023. Wimborne Constable is the only stallion out there competing at four-star level eventing in Australia and certainly the only stallion in contention for Paris. Cathryn, although now based in New South Wales, did originally come from WA.
12.Sam Lyle and BF Valour have posted a score of 38 penalties at Adelaide CCI5*L on 20/04/2023. Sam and BF Valour have already on a couple of occasions been very close to riding for Australia.
So, that is a start to this Paris journey and will allow people to start following the tussle as Australian riders compete for Australian Eventing team selection. We are recognised the world over as being very likely Olympic medal contenders and in 1992 at Barcelona, 1996 at Atlanta and in 2000 at Sydney, the Australia Eventing team won team gold medals at each of these Olympics. Three Olympic consecutive team gold medals. That is a feat which had never been done before and has never been done since. So, when you look at these names who some of us are unfamiliar with, you just need to keep in mind that to get these scores, and be named here, they do have to be rising to a standard which is truly very high. This will be an evolving story well worth following: the road to Paris and the Australian quest for Olympic gold medals. EQ