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Australian Equestrian Team takes shape
Australia's Equestrian Team which will compete in London is starting to take shape with another two horse/rider combinations gaining automatic nomination to the Jumping team overnight.
The combinations of Julia Hargreaves and Vedor and James Paterson-Robinson and Lanosso were the top two performing Australian combinations after two nomination events and as such will be automatically nominated* to the AOC for a position on the four member Jumping team.
Already occupying a position on the team is Edwina Tops-Alexander, who is the sixth ranked Jumping rider in the world and a member of the Australian team which finished seventh at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The fourth combination will be decided by Australian selectors who face a difficult decision when they meet to finalise the team in the coming days.
On his way to gaining automatic nomination, James-Paterson Robinson and his 13 year old gelding Lanosso, also won the Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4* Grand Prix.
The victory is among the best of the 32 year old’s career and he won it convincingly after an emphatic display in a four strong jump off.
After Friday’s leader Amy Graham finished the Grand Prix round with three rails down, Paterson-Robinson knew he had to produce a clear round to gain automatic nomination.
“I was a little bit nervous because it was a difficult course and there weren’t too many clear rounds but the incentive to jump well for the Olympics was stronger than the nerves,” said Paterson-Robinson.
“To finish the nomination process with a victory is a great morale boost for the team. It was a tough day for the riders who faced very wet conditions and James has done a fantastic job to jump clear and win here,” said National Performance Director for Jumping, Stephen Lamb.
The third member of the Jumping team, 26 year old Hargreaves, has learnt from the best in the business and is a former student of two time Olympian George Sanna and her now Olympic Games team-mate Edwina Tops-Alexander.
“I think it hasn’t really hit me yet, I think I will wake up tomorrow and it will hit me. It’s a huge relief and I’m very happy,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity for Julia, she’s been working very hard and she’s earned this position so she’ll do great in London,” Lamb said.
Six of the seven combinations contesting nomination were in action in last night’s Grand Prix. One combination that didn’t make the trip to the French alpine town was Wendy Schaeffer and Koyuna Sun Set. Schaeffer, an Olympic gold
medalist in Eventing, withdrew from the nomination process on veterinary advice after her mare sustained a suspensory ligament type injury at the first nomination event.
*The nomination is subject to both horses passing a veterinary check which will take place on Monday morning local time.
2 June 2012
Amy Graham steps up the pressure at Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4*
Story by Peter Cooke and photos from Nicol Taylor
The first day of jumping at the final nomination event for the London Olympic Jumping team delivered solid performances from Australian riders at Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4* France on Friday 1 June.
Amy Graham and Bella Baloubet staked her claim on a team spot with an impressive clear round which guarantees a start in the final Grand Prix class on Sunday. The jump off with eleven horses from a field of 75 resulted in Amy finishing in an impressive third position and adding no further penalties to her 12 faults from Lummen a month earlier.
Julia Hargreaves and Vedor have been fighting a respiratory problem over the past two weeks, however a quality effort from this combination resulted in an excellent zero jumping round but incurring the dreaded time fault for not maintaining a 400m/min speed around the track. However, Julia would be delighted with her total of 14 penalties going to the final Grand Prix competition later in the weekend.
James Paterson-Robinson and Lanosso looked certain to replicate the clear round in the Linz Grand Prix a fortnight earlier but for the rail on the 1.60m last fence. A poor start in Lummen early in May meant that Lanosso carries 20 faults into this weekend and has now added a further 4 faults. The workmanlike round from this combination was not enough to qualify for the Grand Prix and so they will step up again to make sure they qualify for Sunday’s main event.
Matt Williams and Watch Me vd Mangelaar had to withdraw from the Grand Prix in Linz, however came to the final event fully fit and ready to make the most of their opportunity to impress the Selection Panel. Watch Me jumped a super round until the second last fence, a 1.65m oxer following a wide triple bar and the back rail came down and with a fraction of time over the limit meant that they finished with a total of 5 penalties – again not enough to qualify for the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Paul Athanasoff and Wirragulla Nicklaus came into the competition at the top of the selection table with only eight penalties, however an aggressive ride at the water jump didn’t allow time to settle back before the following combination and they incurred a fault at the front of the double and another back rail over the second last oxer. The big video screen over the in gate meant that horses look directly into this screen as the last line was jumped and it looked suspiciously like several horses, including Nicklaus, lost some momentum looking up at the screen on the way. The addition of 8 penalties adds a degree of difficulty to Paul’s campaign as he is now sitting just behind Amy Graham and Julia Hargreaves as they head to Sunday’s main event.
Harley Brown and Cassiato have been really struggling to battle a respiratory problem following the trip over from America, however he was declared fully fit and ready for action for this competition. The combination looked underdone and had rails at the first of the treble, the fence after the treble and another rail after the water to finish on a less than satisfactory 12 faults. It was a disappointing result for this very well-credentialed combination making their way from California in an attempt to be selected for the Australian team for London. They will now have to qualify for the Grand Prix.
Danielle Butcher on Twins Big Higgs put in a very sound performance but ran into trouble in the middle of the combination and again at the triple bar leading to the last line. The experience for this combination will be invaluable as they make their way in the sport.
Bourg-en-Bresse is an excellent show and in many ways is a great model for what we need to be producing in Australia with a 90x60m sand arena with a bank of sponsored tents surrounding 3 sides of the arena. The equipment is not over the top but just a good mixture of colour and variety with light rails and a range of options for the Course Designer to work with throughout the show,
Jean Paul Leptit as the Course Designer made sure that the very strong field were thinking and operating from beginning to end. The main work commenced mid-way with the vertical oxer vertical treble at number 6 being responsible for many horses as the first element was regularly on the ground. The water with rail over fence was very lenient, however the vertical oxer double following was also a clear ‘sucker’ fence for many riders who were not able to bring their horses back to a shorter stride, resulting in many faults at either part A or B.
The final line was a challenge with the triple bar followed with an outside bending 7 strides to a 1.65m oxer and a further 5 strides to the 1.60m final vertical heading to the in gate and with the big video screen all adding to the degree of difficulty.
There are some 50 plus Australians here in Bourg-en-Bresse for the final selection events and all were enthralled with the rounds of Amy Graham and Julia Hargreaves, delighted with the great weather finally starting to present for the European summer and in some cases disappointed with lost opportunities or aspirations. The Event Organisers have been very encouraging and the local public supportive.
The selection to the Australian Olympic team will all come down to Sunday’s Grand Prix event – more then.
31 May 2012
Jumping riders ready for their final nomination event
We are just days away from knowing which combinations will comprise Australia's Jumping team at the 2012 London Olympic Games but before the team is revealed one final challenge stands in the way.
The second and final Jumping nomination event is taking place this weekend and riders have assembled in France to compete in the Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4*.
A good result this weekend could put riders on the path to London and Olympic glory.
There are four positions* on the Jumping team and with Edwina Tops-Alexander already occupying one of those places through early selection, three spots are up for grabs.
27 year old Matt Williams, who along with Edwina was a member of Australia’s Jumping team which finished seventh at Beijing, is one of seven riders in contention for the team.
“We have a good mix of seasoned campaigners and first time Olympic hopefuls vying for a spot and they are all determined and focused on performing at their best so we will have a good, solid team to take to London,” said National
Performance Director for Jumping Stephen Lamb.
“This nomination process has worked well for us previously producing strong competitive teams at the last Olympics and World Equestrian Games and I’m confident that the riders and horses we announce next week will do Australia proud,” he added.
One combination that won't be continuing in the nomination process is Wendy Schaeffer and Koyuna Sun Set. The pair competed in the opening round of the nomination process at Linz (AUT) with an excellent Nations Cup round but on veterinary advice Sun Set’s campaign for a position on the team ended at this first phase.The mare sustained a suspensory ligament type injury whilst competing in a qualifying event for the Grand Prix.
Naturally Wendy and her "Team Sunburst" supporters were devastated to have to make this decision to withdraw but accept that injuries are always a risk in high level competition.
Jumping combinations competing at Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4* 31 May – 3 June 2012
Matt Williams Watch Me VD Mangelaar
James Paterson-Robinson Lanosso
Julia Hargreaves Vedor
Paul Athanasoff Wirragulla Nicklaus
Amy Graham Bella Baloubet
Harley Brown Cassiato
Danielle Butcher Twins Big Higgs
For further event information visit http://www.csi-bourg.com/programme.htm
Follow Equestrian Australia on Facebook and twitter for the latest results and updates. Full reports from each event will be available on the EA website.
*A fifth combination will act as the team’s reserve