Britain is all systems go for Paris 2024 as Olympic equestrian places are reshuffled

  • Britain is all systems go in preparation for Paris 2024, as major milestones have led to some late rejigs of places for this summer’s Games.

    The months from 31 December to the end of March hold a myriad of critical Olympic deadlines, and Britain has met all those so far and is firmly on track for Paris.

    Nations had until the end of 2023 for at least three horse and rider combinations to have achieved minimum eligibility requirements. They then had until 8 January to submit a certificate of capability to the FEI, before the federation informed nations of their allocated team quota places on 10 January. Britain has met all of these, but for other nations, there is a certain amount of reshuffling – and waiting.

    British Equestrian performance director Helen Nicholls told H&H that preparations are “in a good place”, adding that an Olympic and Paralympic year is “like no other”.

    “We’ve ticked the qualification boxes and now our athlete combinations can start their quest for selection in earnest,” she said.

    “We’ve worked with the performance managers across dressage, eventing, jumping and para dressage on plans which will allow riders and horses to perform at their best for selection and then peak just in time for Paris.

    “This is a huge opportunity to showcase our sports, as the Palace de Versailles is a truly beautiful and iconic venue – and being so close, Paris is almost like a home Games. We are confident that come August and September, we’ll be ready.”

    Official documents show Brazil’s Olympic team dressage place has been withdrawn, as the nation did not confirm its certificate of capability by the 8 January deadline. This also happened ahead of Tokyo, but the nation has not given up total hope.

    “With our unprecedented silver medal as a team in the Pan-American Games in Santiago 2023, we secured the country’s spot in Paris,” a Brazilian federation spokesman told H&H.

    “Now, we need to await the official decision from the relevant authorities regarding the registration of the Brazilian team, as we anticipate the participation of a full team in Paris 2024.

    “Nevertheless, Brazil already has the right to an individual spot which, in case of a definitive impossibility of the team spot, will be determined according to our confederation’s criteria.”

    Nations have until 5 February to confirm or decline their allocated team quota places, and there are several later target dates to meet, so further changes could be possible.

    For Finland and Portugal, this is a milestone moment. Finland last fielded an Olympic dressage team at Seoul 1988, and returning to Paris has historical significance for Portugal. Both nations are also expected to have individual places in other equestrian disciplines, as per the recently published FEI rankings, which are used as the basis for individual qualification slots.

    “It’s great that the level has risen in dressage and we can participate with the whole team. We now have a dozen international-level riders who have set their sights on a team place in Paris,” said Jutta Koivula, sports director of Finland’s equestrian federation.

    Rita Cabral de Moura, of the Portuguese equestrian federation, told H&H that confirmation of its Olympic team dressage place is “an affirmation of our talent and capacity”.

    “The first Olympic medal won for Portugal was in Paris in 1924, in equestrian sport. One hundred years later we are back, and we believe that we will present a very competitive team,” she said.

    The horse nationality transfer deadline on Monday (15 January) has also resulted in a recent flurry of activity.

    The US has had an influx of top dressage rides, including European medallist Bohemian, Lottie Fry’s former grand prix-winning ride Lars Van De Hoenderheide, international grand prix horse Fleau De Baian – a full brother to Adelinde Cornelissen’s late London Olympic medal-winner Jerich Parzival – and more.

    Two top rides of Andreas Helgstrand, who has been excluded from the Danish national team following the broadcast of an undercover documentary, have moved to new riders while he is sidelined.

    European team bronze medallist Jovian will be campaigned by Patrik Kittel and is registered to Sweden, while Queenparks Wendy is registered to Germany and will be campaigned by Isabell Werth.

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