Hiroshi Hoketsu (JPN) and Whisper 115
Qualification for Olympic Groups F and G (Africa-Middle East and South East Asia-Oceania) took the form of assessments conducted by a highly experienced Ground Jury which travelled to three different locations to evaluate the three teams – Japan, Australia, and New Zealand – vying for Olympic qualification. The two teams to secure their Olympic slot in Dressage are Australia (teams score 196.167) and Japan (194.792).
This qualification is an historical highlight for Australia as it is the first time in Olympic history that the country qualifies an Olympic Dressage team, apart, of course, from the 2000 Olympic Games, when the Australian team was granted a place as representatives of the host country. Australia thus becomes one of the seven nations to have teams in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines, the others being Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and the USA.
THE GROUND JURY
The Jury was composed of O-Status International Dressage Judges Mariette Withages (BEL), Mary Seefried (AUS), Minako Furuoka (JPN), and Dieter Schüle (GER) and International Judge Jan Bird (NZL). One of these judges –Minako Furuoka – will also be officiating at the Olympic Games.
Originally, the FEI Regional Olympic Dressage Team Qualifier should have taken place in October 2007 in Australia. It would have been the highlight of the Dressage year in the Asia-Pacific region. However, the outbreak of equine influenza in Australia prevented the organisation of such an event. The nations affected – Australia, Japan, and New Zealand – worked with the FEI to find a mutually acceptable solution. It was then decided that instead of having the teams compete head-to-head at a single venue, the Ground Jury would travel to the three places most convenient for the teams. These three venues were Les-Arcs-sur-Argens near Cannes (FRA) for the Japanese team; Sydney (AUS) for the Australians; and Palmerston North (NZL) for the riders from New Zealand.
LES ARCS-SUR-ARGENS near Cannes (FRA), 31 January 2008
At Les-Arcs-sur-Argens near Cannes, the best three Japanese riders - Hiroshi Hoketsu, Mieko Yagi and Yuko Kitai - scored a total of 194,792%. This was the score to beat for the Australian riders and the New Zealand squad in the next two assessments. Ground Jury President Dieter Schüle commented, “All the riders did a really good job. The winner Hiroshi Hoketsu had good impulsion and his extensions went very well as did the passage.”
Hiroshi Hoketsu is based in Germany and trains with Ton de Ridder from Aachen. The trainer is very proud of his pupil, a former USA-based manager of Johnson & Johnson who will turn 67 next March and may thus be the oldest member of the entire Japanese Olympic delegation. Hiroshi Hoketsu was the first Japanese rider to win a CDI*3 last season showing his 11-year old horse Whisper 115 in Vierzon. Ton de Ridder and Hiroshi Hoketsu arrived early in Cannes to get used to the outdoor arena and the weather conditions.
Says De Ridder, “Hoketsu has been fighting for this dream for the last five years and his perseverance and attitude are admirable. While experiencing successes and disasters, like having his horse Calando not sound at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games, he stuck to his dream. He found a new horse, kept on believing in our training and discipline and now he has succeeded. I am very happy for him! It also proves that new things are possible in Dressage, at any age, even at 67.”
An impressive crowd followed the event as Olympic qualification is an important occasion indeed.
SYDNEY (AUS), 4 February 2008
The Olympic Assessment travelled on to Sydney where Brett Parbery, Heath Ryan and Rozzie Ryan scored a total of 196.167 and became the first nation of Regional Groups F/G to secure Olympic qualification.
The Olympic venue in Horsley Park near Sydney was flooded and so the Olympic Assessment had to be moved. This did not influence the results and team spirit of the Australian squad who took over the lead from the Japanese riders. Mariette Withages commented, “Amazingly winner Brett Parbery scored the same points as the Japanese rider Hoketsu last week in France: 66,917%. As the total of the Australian team was a bit higher, this team was the first to qualify for the Olympic Games.”
New South Wales professional and former Australian buck jump champion Brett Parbery rode Carolyn Lieutenant’s imposing 18-hand French Anglo Arab/Percheron cross gelding Victory Salute to a clear 2% win (final result 66.917%). Flamboyant Heath Ryan became runner up on Greenoaks Dundee (64.708%). In third place was Rozzie Ryan riding the elegant Donnerhall mare Donna Carrera (64.542%). Ryan and Rozzie are husband and wife and the 2008 Olympics are definitely a family affair. Rozzie has been dreaming for an Olympic spot since 2000 and has managed to keep the dream alive for eight years.
“After the uncertainties that equine influenza brought to our industry, it is a great relief to see the path to Hong Kong falling into place,” a satisfied Heath Ryan commented.
PALMERSTON NORTH (NZL), 7 February 2008
Three days later, the New Zealand team consisting of Jody Hartfield, Kallista Field and Bill Noble scored a total of 177,875%, which allowed Japan to secure the second Olympic place.
The New Zealand the winner was Jody Hartstone riding Landioso (60,292%). Mariette Withages explained, “A Japanese delegation followed us from France to Australia to New Zealand to see all rides and scores with their own eyes. Just like in France, all the riders in Australia and New Zealand were very nervous and aware of the responsibility. However, watching the riders from New Zealand, we found good basics wanting. Much improvement is needed in these basics.”
Australia - 196.167% - QUALIFIED
1. Victory Salute – Brett PARBERY 66.917%
2. Greenoaks Dundee – Heath RYAN 64,708%
3. Donna Carrera – Rozzie RYAN 64,542%
4. Lanzaro – Maree TOMKINSON 63.708 *
Japan - 194.792% - QUALIFIED
1. Whisper 115 - Hiroshi HOKETSU 66,917%
2. Dow Jones 13 – Mieko YAGI 64,167%
3. Rambo 394 – Yuko KITAI 63,708%
4. Why Me - Hiroyuki KITAHARA 61,87 *
New Zealand - 178.300% - NOT QUALIFIED
1. Landioso – Jody HARTSTONE 60,292%
2. Soda – Kallista FIELD 59,708%
3. Vincent St James – William NOBLE 57,875%
4. Jaybee Anzac – Nicole MAGOFFIN 57.583 *
* drop scores
NOTE: Due to the Equine Influenza outbreak in Australia, the scores given in Australia and New Zealand were counted as Olympic qualification-scores and WDRL scores, as given the veterinary circumstances, no international dressage shows have been held in this region. In Europe however all official CDI’s, CDIO’s and CDI-W are counted as Olympic Games qualifiers, so the Assessment near Cannes was only a pure team qualifier and did not give the participants individual qualification score (64 %) for the Olympic Games.
DRESSAGE TEAMS AT THE 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES
The following teams have qualified for the Dressage events at the 2008 Olympic Games: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA. All teams will consist of three riders and three horses each.
Further to the decision of the Swiss Dressage team not to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games announced earlier this year, their qualification place will be reallocated to the FEI Olympic Riders Rankings – Dressage of 1 May 2008. This means that three individual spaces – the number of riders on an Olympic Dressage team – will be selected from the FEI Olympic Riders Rankings – Dressage. If three of these qualifying spaces/riders are from the same nation, it will be considered as an NOC/NF team.