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NZ, Aust qualify for Olympic dressage contest

November 3, 2011

After a split qualifier on two continents, New Zealand and Australia have both qualified for the team dressage competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Australian riders Lyndal Oatley on Potifar and Mary Hanna on Sancette on their lap of honour at the end of the regional Olympic qualifier which finished yesterday at Ermelo in The Netherlands). © Rinaldo de Craen/FEI

It is the first time New Zealand has qualified a dressage team for an Olympic Games.

The two-part regional qualifier was held in Sydney, Australia, on October 28, and in Ermelo in The Netherlands yesterday.

Because of quarantine restrictions, the qualifier was held in two parts, one in each hemisphere, as riders and horses from Olympic Groups F and G are based in both Australasia and Europe.

The four riders from New Zealand who rode in the qualifier are not necessarily the combinations who will ride at the Olympic Games, unless they achieve the necessary steps and are selected. Any combination who wishes to compete at the Olympics needs to meet tough selection standards, which are set by ESNZ and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

Three teams - Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa - were in competition for the two slots available to nations from the FEI Olympic Groups F (Africa and Middle East) and G (South East Asia and Oceania).

The same judges were used at both legs of the regional qualifier. The panel was FEI 5* judges Stephen Clarke (GBR), who will also be the President of the Ground Jury at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Gotthilf Riexinger (GER) and Susan Hoevenaars (AUS), plus FEI 4* judges Mariëtte Sanders-van Gansewinkel (NED) and Raphaël Saleh (FRA).

Team Australia, consisting of Rachael Sanna/Jaybee Alabaster; Chantal Wigan/Ferero; Lyndal Oatley/Potifar; and Mary Hanna/Sancette scored an average result of 69.255% (team total 207.765%) which put them in the lead at the end of the three-team competition.

Team New Zealand, which was composed of Louisa Hill/Bates Antonello; Vanessa Way/KH Arvan; Nicky Pope/Fabarchie; and Shiwon Green/Gosh finished second on an average team score of 64.922% (team total 194.767%).

Team South Africa, consisting of Zilla Pearse/Sarkozy; Nicole Smith/Victoria; Denise Hallion/Bomond; and Adriaan van Wijk/Othello 216, were a close third with an average score of 63% (team total 188.999%).

Equestrian Sports High Performance director Sarah Harris says it is a fantastic achievement for New Zealand dressage.

"It creates such an exciting opportunity for dressage. It is now up to the riders to achieve the next big step which is achieving the Olympic selection criteria so we can fill the team positions. It is going to be very much a team effort to make this happen."

ESNZ chief executive Jim Ellis cautioned that there was still a long way to go to London, and success in qualifying a team slot was only part of the whole process of having dressage representation at the Olympics.

The event completes the direct team qualification process for dressage at the 2012 Olympic Games and brings the number of teams to 11, as follows: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

The total number of teams competing in dressage at the 2012 Olympic Games may exceed 11 since additional composite teams made up of three individuals from the same nation can qualify through the FEI Olympic Athletes Rankings.



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