Olympic appeal by Aust dressage rider fails

Hayley Beresford and Belissimo
Hayley Beresford and Belissimo.

An appeal by Australian Hayley Beresford to be promoted to the country’s Olympic dressage team has failed.

The 34-year-old rider, who competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was not selected for London 2012. She took her grievance to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, but lost her appeal. An earlier independent Appeals Tribunal also dismissed an appeal by Beresford.

Riders selected to the 2012 team for Australia are Mary Hanna, and cousins Lyndal Oatley and Kristy Oatley.

Beresford has put up some good results on Belissimo in the lead up to the Olympics, and was ranked third with her grand prix scores at the selection trials.

After she made the appeal to the CAS, Beresford said: “Please understand that I have not taken this decision lightly. I recognise that my decision affects people other than myself and I’m sorry for any hurt that my actions might cause, but I personally feel it is a matter of importance that I take all avenues available to me to achieve my dream of competing at a second Olympic Games.”

In a statement yesterday, Equestrian Australia rejected “the false and unfounded allegations” made in the media in relation to the selection of the dressage team, “and more particularly, the failure to select Hayley Beresford” .

EA Chairman Paul Cargill said the dismissal of both of Beresford’s appeals confirmed that the original selections stood “and recent performances outcomes are simply not able to be taken into account.”

“EA fully supports its dressage team, its selectors and its team officials and stands right behind them,”  he said.

“We dismiss all allegations made, especially those that are unsourced and are not accompanied by anything other than a personal view of what should have been.  Ms Beresford has had the opportunity to put her case before two appellate bodies and she has not succeeded with either.

“It is now time for our selected athletes to get on with their job and do their talking where it counts, at Greenwich Park,” Cargill said.

The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport is final, with the findings to be released in the coming days.

• Australia qualified for the Olympic team dressage competition as a result of their performance at the two-part regional qualifier held in Sydney and the Netherlands in 2011. The process for qualification then began, with two selection events – one in Mannheim, Germany and the other in Compiegne, France.

At the end of the two-round nomination process, 31-year-old Lyndal Oatley was the highest placed athlete – having finished both events as the top-placed Australian. Her mount is the 11-year-old bay stallion Sandro Boy.

“The Sydney Olympics was my first ‘in-person’ introduction to dressage at such a high international level,” Oatley said.

“I sat in the stadium and was so inspired to ride at such an event with great riding, amazing horses, the atmosphere and the admiration of what it must take to achieve such a level of training.”

One of her inspirations in Sydney was cousin Kristy, Australia’s most successful dressage Olympian to date having finished 9th in the individual and 6th in the team events riding Wall Street at the 2000 Games.

For Lyndal, having the opportunity to ride alongside her cousin is an added bonus to making her first Olympic Team.

“You have to love keeping it in the family!” Lyndal said. “This is such a unique situation to be in, and it’s really exciting not only for us competing, but for our family. We are a sporty family, and are very driven, but we are also good sports – so we will all be supporting one another.”

Lyndal will also compete against her husband Patrik Kittel, who competes for Sweden and is also normally her coach.

“When it comes to competing with Patrik, we are very used to competing against one another and we are still happily married,” Lyndal said. “So we know how to balance life and our sport and must be doing it right so we change nothing!”

Although Australia has never won an Olympic medal in dressage, recent international results have been a strong boost for the Aussies leading into London. In 2010, Australia posted their best team dressage result in history at the World Equestrian Games, finishing eighth.

Rounding out the team is 57-year-old Mary Hanna who will make history as the first Australian dressage athlete to compete at four Olympics.

Originally a showjumper and eventing rider, Hanna switched to dressage in her twenties and never looked back. As well as her Olympic campaigns, Hanna has represented Australia three times at the World Equestrian Games and FEI World Cup Finals. Coming off the back of a fourth placing at the 2011 Hickstead CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle, Hanna will be looking to impress in London.

The dressage competition in London starts on the sixth day of the games.


One thought on “Olympic appeal by Aust dressage rider fails

  • July 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I think this needs to be addressed properly and more fully. Why wee the world rankings not taken into account. Why has one of the Oatley women never placed higher than this Beresford woman who it seems was the top placed Australian at the last Olympics. If these facts are correct as alleged surely the selection committee could not rely on ‘past Olympic experience’ as a selection criteria. Seems someone is being a poor sport definitely not in the Olympic spirit as our best and brightest should go.


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