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Posted by Kirsty Pasto on 22/03/2021.

Equestrian Australia High Performance Weekly Update – 22nd March 2021

Last week we saw a number of key competitions take place across multiple disciplines as our riders continue to focus on their Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic preparations.

The first Australian FEI World Cup Jumping event for 2021 took place over the weekend at PSI Dressage and Jumping with the Stars where 23 combinations lined up to contest the event. Not only did the PSI Dressage and Jumping with the Stars competition mark the official start of the Australian World Cup Jumping season, it also offered one of only two opportunities for Australian based combinations to achieve their Minimum Eligibility Requirement or Confirmation Result for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The competition was also a qualification event for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2022. The quality of the competition was high with the combinations delivering solid performances, promising a competitive World Cup season ahead. In addition the PSI Dressage and Jumping with the Stars event also hosted a variety of national classes including a CDN competition, which attracted many of Australia’s leading dressage competitors who produced impressive results throughout the event as they continue to set their sights on Tokyo 2020 team selection.

Wandin Park in Victoria hosted the Australian Eventing Championships this past weekend which also included CCI2*/3*/4* classes. The event attracted more than 700 entries across the levels and provided our Australian based riders with a further opportunity to take part in FEI competition. 

Last week Australia took part in the first trans-Atlantic series CDIO3* Nations Cup competition for 2021 in Wellington, Florida (USA). Australia finished in fourth place with our riders displaying commendable focus and promising performances across the competition.  The event presented our USA based athletes with the rare chance to contest a Nations Cup, with the Global Dressage Festival providing the first opportunity since the onset of Covid-19. Our riders utilised the occasion to perform in front of world-class judges as they continue their Tokyo 2020 and WEG 2022 campaigns. 

In Europe all FEI competition remains cancelled until 11 April due to the EHV-1 outbreak with many national federations also choosing to cancel national level events as a safety precaution. We remain in contact with each of our identified riders to ensure they have the necessary support to continue their training despite this unforseen challenge. The mindset of our Squad riders remains positive as they anticipate the safe return of equestrian competition in the near future.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee has issued a statement regarding their decision to disallow foreign spectators from attending the Tokyo 2020 Games in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. We understand this decision comes as a disappointment for our supporters who had anticipated attending the Games to cheer on our team. We are currently unaware of how this latest development will impact the attendance of our owners, who are an integral part of our team, and we are seeking further clarification regarding this matter. We recognise that this decision has been made in the best interest of the health and safety of all involved and we are working with the relevant authorities to ensure we remain informed as further information becomes available. We also continue to collaborate with the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia regarding not only our operational and logistical preparations, but also the upcoming release of the amended nomination policies. 

On Sunday our Para-dressage athletes from around the world gathered on Zoom for the second online High Performance (HP) Para-Dressage Riders Forum. The Forum was open to all Para-equestrian athletes, not just identified HP Squad riders, and aimed to not only inform and educate our current cohort of athletes but to also support and encourage new riders thinking about entering the sport. The Forum was comprised of seven sessions hosted by industry experts ranging from ‘Riding a Dressage Test Accurately’ with National Para-Dressage Coach Lone Jorgensen, through to ‘Understanding Team Dynamics’ with Behavioural Strategist Warren Kennaugh. The Forum was met with positive feedback and encouraging engagement from all those in attendance. 

As always the health and safety of our people and horses remain our priority as we work together as a high-performance community to navigate these unprecedented times.