Athens approaches

  • Whitaker accepts selectors’ choice

    Michael Whitaker has decided against making an official protest over the selection of riders for Britain’s individual show jumping places at the Athens Olympics. He has agreed to travel reserve, if required.

    An emergency meeting was called at the BSJA last week to resolve the situation, at which Michael Whitaker, team manager Derek Ricketts and technical advisors Graham Fletcher and John Jacks, international affairs committee chairman David Broome and BEF performance manager Will Connell were present.

    Michael says: “I’m a lot happier, but it has come down to opinion rather than form. I realise Derek was in a difficult situation, but after my double clear in Rotterdam, I thought I would get it.”

    A question now hangs over the future of Michael’s partnership with Olympic prospect Portofino; he is only contracted to ride Portofino and Fleur – both owned by the American Sapperstien family – until the Olympics.

    Irish Dressage horse and rider confirmed

    Ireland failed to qualify a team for the dressage in Athens, but they have named the horse and rider who will be representing the country as an individual. Heike Holstein will be competing with Welt Adel, while Ana Merveldt-Steffens and Hera III will be the reserve combination.

    The 33-year-old Dublin-born Heike has plenty of experience of competing as an individual at the Olympics, having been to both Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), although the medals have thus far eluded her, so the hunger for success is likely to be as great as ever.

    Australia names dressage rider

    The Australian Equestrian Federation has announced that Kristy Oatley-Nist and Quando Quando will be representing Australia as its sole Dressage Combination in Athens.

    Australia also failed to qualify a team for the Olympics this year, but there has never really been any doubt that Kristy would get the individual ticket to Athens. Although her rivals for the place, Sydney team-mates Ricky MacMillan and Mary Hanna, have both dominated the leader boards in Australia, Kristy’s international campaign has shown a higher calibre of performance.

    The Australian youngster is no stranger to Olympic success – at the tender age of 22, she finished within the top ten in Sydney, and seems only to be improving with the Oldenburg stallion Quando Quando.

  • For a full round-up of Olympic news see tomorrow’s Horse & Hound
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