Sam Griffiths added to Aust Olympic eventing team

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Sam Griffiths and Happy Times celebrate victory in the FEI World Cup round at Chatsworth in 2010.
Sam Griffiths and Happy Times celebrate victory in the FEI World Cup round at Chatsworth in 2010.  © Mike Bain

Australia’s second eventing reserve Sam Griffiths has been called into the Olympic team after the withdrawal of first reserve Megan Jones.

Jones, who replaced Shane Rose after Taurus was injured earlier this week, has withdrawn following an injury to the near foreleg of her horse, Allofasudden.

Equestrian Section Manager Brett Mace said the development has caused some disruption for the  team, but dealing with disappointments of this nature is something equestrian athletes unfortunately are used to.

“The reality is this is the nature of our sport. Horses can sustain these injuries and before you know it, a sporting dream can come to an end.

“Megan would have been an asset to the team and this has been a very difficult time for her and her support team.

“There is no doubt that losing two horses just prior to the start of our Olympic campaign is less than ideal,” Mace said.

It will be the first Olympic Games for Sam Griffiths and Happy Times. Griffiths represented Australia previously at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and at other major competitions. He rode Happy Times to wins in the World Cup leg at Chatsworth in 2010, Saumur in 2008, and was third at Badminton and Burghley in 2009 and fourth at Badminton last year. Griffiths has ridden Happy Times since the start of the 2005 season. The horse was ridden the previous year by Warren Lamperd.

The Oldenburg registered Happy Times is by the Czech-bred thoroughbred stallion Heraldik – also the sire of top eventers Butts Abraxxas and Euroriding Butts Leon – and out of the Westfalian mare  Hauptstutbuch Mandy, by Maraschino.

Australia won team silver at Beijing in 2008. Subject to IOC, LOCOG and FEI approval, Griffiths will join  Andrew Hoy, Christopher Burton, and husband/wife team Clayton and Lucinda Fredericks on the team. Eventing teams at the Olympics have five members, with three scores counting toward the final result. This can put a four-member team at a disadvantage.

“Sam comes into the team with strong, consistent performances and we’re confident he’ll contribute well to the overall team performance,” Mace said.

“The rest of the team are getting on with their individual preparations ahead of Saturday’s competition and are onsite at the Greenwich Park venue daily working their horses.

“We remain confident of achieving the goals we set out to do here in London and that’s to walk away with a medal. We’re in the fortunate position of being able to draw on strong depth of talent in both riders and horses from within the Australian ranks,” Mace said.

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