“They are obviously underdogs,” said Lucinda, “but their enthusiasm is wonderful and I’ll support them all the way.”
To secure an Olympic berth, Austria must produce one of the two best performances at the European Championships in Luhmühlen (25-28 August), excluding Britain, Germany and Belgium, who have already qualified for 2012.
The alliance begins in Austria on 27 February, when Lucinda meets the team for the first time.
“We are very happy to profit from her experience in cross-country,” said Austrian eventing manager Claudia Möller.
However, Lucinda’s first task is to get her team to the European Championships. Only two members of the Austrian squad — Harald Ambros and Margit Appelt — are currently qualified, but a third, Harald Siegl, has four-star experience.
“Lucinda has been my idol since I started eventing,” said Ms Appelt. “It will be a great challenge to try to qualify for the Olympics. We have no national CCIs, so travel up to 2,000km to do the bigger events.”
Two spring clinics have been scheduled, and Lucinda will accompany the team to Vairano CCI*** in Italy (15-17 April).
“The [coaching] agreement is until Luhmühlen. If we qualify we’ll see what happens next,” Lucinda said.
Austria has never won an Olympic eventing medal and they last qualified in 2004.
This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (3 February, 2011)