Town Crier

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 20:20

--- This blog was first posted in Eurodressage's Newsletter of 1 July 2024.

Town Crier

It's 1 July and we are now less than a month away from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. In three weeks time horses will move to the gardens of Versailles where the most important equestrian event in an athlete's life takes place.

The past week at the Eurodressage headquarters in Belgium all work was focused on posting highly anticipated team announcements. There was an incessant stream of similar articles as national federations bit the bullet and decided on which riders get to go, not only to the Olympics but also the European Championships for ponies, children, juniors, young riders and U25.  I felt more like the town crier listing the names who made the cut than a news publication bringing a variety of articles. 

I like doing team announcements as it brings about so much emotion, but also so much depth in how NF structures work and how complicated team selections are. While for some countries the Olympic team announcements have been smooth sailing, I have already been sitting a week on three unfinished articles about more problematic team selections with Canada probably spearheading that group as they faced an appeal.  Other NF's and national Olympic committees are also not adhering to their own timeline for announcing their riders: New Zealand for one. Also Finland is lagging behind with no explanation. And what about Australia? Still no news from them while the scores are all there for the committee to make a rather easy pick this year? Same goes for Portugal. And Spain wouldn't be Spain if they didn't wait to the very last minute, year after year. There is no respite for those weary candidates.

Germany is having their final selection trial also last minute at the CDIO Aachen and it's mind boggling that they decided to exert their horses one last time in a very heavy competition with three tests, less than three weeks before the Games. I also couldn't understand why France is sending another two team horses to Aachen, after they have competed in several big shows and heavy FEI Nations Cup shows month after month this spring. Some federations seem relentless in pushing their riders and horses to the brink, while others (like Denmark) will probable select two (older) team horses that did the bare minimum: Zepter (1 test in 2024) and Mount St. John Freestyle (4 tests in 2024). But these routiniers have proven their worth and it's all about fitness.

The die will be cast at the CDIO Aachen this week and of course we'll be there!

-- Astrid Appels