Updated: 4pm on Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Ireland’s biggest names face a tough battle to be chosen their country’s sole showjumper at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Ireland controversially failed to qualify a team for Rio after the Cian O’Connor “arena party” incident at Aachen, and so relies on one individual spot earned by Bertram Allen’s performance through the FEI’s special Olympic rankings system.
However, no country is obliged to send the rider who won the place.
Cian, the 2012 bronze medallist, says he is determined to win the selectors’ backing over higher-ranked riders such as Bertram Allen, Dennis Lynch, Dermott Lennon and Conor Swail.
He told H&H: “I have a proven record to deliver on the big day and showed that again last week in the Nations Cup at Wellington on an unknown horse.”
Britain, Holland and Germany are the only European nations to qualify full teams in all three disciplines.
Britain also recently secured a fifth individual spot for its para-dressage squad.
Qualification differences between disciplines
Other countries’ individual rider entitlements were finalised last week, highlighting the disparity between allocation criteria for jumping and the other two disciplines.
Belgium, winners of the 2015 Furusiyya Nations Cup final and stand-out team on the European top league Nations Cups, also failed to qualify a jumping team for Rio after a below par performances at the European Championship. They will have just two individuals at Rio, one likely to be Olympic league leader Gregory Wathelet.
However, in dressage and eventing, nations are permitted to qualify multiple individuals who can then form extra “composite” teams. Denmark has four riders in dressage. With three eventing riders through each, Switzerland, Russia and Italy will swell that team contest to 14 nations.
Brazil, as host, automatically competes in all three sports. Allocation of places for the Americas has been weighted towards the south: in showjumping, Venezuela and Colombia have two riders each, and Peru and Uruguay one. But despite being Pan-Am silver medallists, Canada has not qualified a dressage team and sends just two individuals.
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The final dressage list has been confirmed after the FEI announced on 22 March that the results from the CDI3* grand prix special at Lier in Belgium (2 March) included nationalistic judging in favour of a Ukrainian athlete, Inna Logutenkova, by two Ukrainian judges.
As a result of this, the results from that class were scratched from the Olympic and world rankings. Inna has still claimed an Olympic individual slot for Ukraine with Don Gregorius, although her ranking with her other ride. Fleraro, has taken a major downturn.
The other riders through include Ireland’s Judy Reynolds, who secured her Olympic berth with an Irish record dressage freestyle score of 79.7% at Qatar’s CHI Al Shaqab.
Riders who should face little domestic competition for their country’s slot include British-based Chinese eventer Alex Hua Tian, and Portugal’s Luciana Diniz, the world ranked number 10 showjumper.