Equestrian Life
The Australian Rio Olympic dressage team: how did we get here?

Mary Hanna and Umbro ©Roger Fitzhardinge

Mary Hanna qualified on two horses for Rio, however she could only take one place in the team. Boogie Woogie ranked higher than Umbro (pictured) and was therfore her ride for Rio.

©Roger Fitzhardinge


By Equestrian Life

Athlete selection for any Olympic sport can be a tricky affair - and dressage is no exception.

To begin with, horse and rider combinations must be selected for the Shadow Team - think of it as pre-pre-selection.

From this Shadow Team, Equestrian Australia was required to identify up to 4 combinations for nomination to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) for selection to the 2016 Rio dressage team. This had to be completed by the 4th of July 2016.

So how does Equestrian Australia decide which combinations they’ll pick from the shadow team?

Well, nominated combinations must, among other things, have been recognised as members of the Shadow Team, have met FEI qualification standards and not have breached the AOC Anti-Doping By-Laws.

The FEI qualification process:

Combinations must have been awarded a score of least 64% by the Grand Jury and by two different FEI 5* dressage judges (that aren’t biased Aussies!) These scores must be achieved in a Grand Prix test at two different CDI 3*/4*/5*/ CDI-W or CDIO events during the qualification period.

Nominated combinations must have also competed in competitions, completed the training regime and fulfilled other participation requirements to the satisfaction of Equestrian Australia. Horses must also be made available for a veterinary examination - as there’s no point putting an unsound horse on a plane!

In the case of the 2016 team, eight combinations (see below) were announced as Identified Combinations by April 15th - think of this as pre-selection. These combinations were then required to compete at the following qualifying events in order to confirm rankings and therefore team selection.

Odense Horse Festival, 12 -16 May 2016, Odense, Denmark

1. Kristy Oatley and Du Soleil - 69.520?

2. Sue Hearn and Remmington - 68.820

3.Kelly Layne and Udon P - 67.880

4. Mary Hanna and Boogie Woogie 6 - 67.540

5. Mary Hanna and Umbro - 66.920

6. Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina 4 - 66.100

7. Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy - 66.067*

8. Brett Parbery and DP Weltmieser - 65.180

*Average of the three lowest scores as this combination could not compete at the selection event.


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CHIO Rotterdam, 23-26 June 2016, Rotterdam, Netherlands

1.    Kristy Oatley and Du Soleil - 71.320

2.    Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy - 68.800

3.    Mary Hanna and Boogie Woogie 6 - 68.000

4.    Brett Parbery and DP Weltmieser - 67.980

5.    Mary Hanna and Umbro - 67.300

6.    Kelly Layne and Udon P - 65.427*

7.    Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina 4 - 64.640

8.    Sue Hearn and Remmington - 64.340

*Average of the three lowest scores as this combination could not compete at the selection event.

The decision to award a score derived from the average of the lowest three scores proved controversial. In some instances, combinations could have technically achieve a better score by leaving their horse in the paddock!

For example, if Brett had sat out Odense like Lyndal (Sandro Boy was ill and therefore understandably unable to compete), he could have received a better overall score. Similarly, if Sue had sat out Rotterdam like Kelly (Udon P was also unfit to compete at the time of the event), her total could have also been higher. In fact, with ‘average’ scores in said events, these two riders could have theoretically finished higher up the final rankings.

What an interesting system!

Final rankings:

1. Kristy Oatley and Du Soleil - 70.420

2. Mary Hanna and Boogie Woogie 6 - 67.770

3. Lyndal Oatley and Sandro Boy - 67.434

4. Mary Hanna and Umbro - 67.110

5. Kelly Layne and Udon P - 66.654

6. Sue Hearn and Remmington - 66.580

6. Brett Parbery and DP Weltmieser - 66.580

8. Maree Tomkinson and Diamantina - 65.370

The original team was comprised of Kristy Oatley, Lyndal Oatley, Mary Hanna and Kelly Layne (Mary couldn’t occupy two places in the team), with Brett and Sue as non-travelling reserves.

The withdrawal of Brett’s horse DP Weltmieser and Kelly Layne’s Upon P due to injuries meant that Sue Hearn ended up travelling to Rio as part of the team.

Dressage selection is a complex process - one that has certainly given rise to plenty of controversy since the nomination events!

You can read more regarding the Australian Olympic Team Equestrian Australia Nomination Criteria here.


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