With the passing of the horse nationality transfer deadline for the 2020 Olympics on 15 January, there has been a flurry of activity as elite horses move to new riders ahead of Games selection
Exciting new combinations are looking to make their mark with their country’s Olympic selectors as a number of top international horses have recently moved to new riders.
One of the reasons behind a recent flurry of activity is the horse nationality transfer deadline. Horses entered for the equestrian events at the Tokyo Games must have been registered with the FEI as property of owners of the same nationality as their rider by 15 January 2020. The percentage of ownership is not important, and horses who have previously competed on teams at other senior championships still have to be registered with the correct nationality in order to be eligible for the Olympics.
Japan and Ireland are among the nations with high-profile movers in recent weeks, while British championship rides look to have been secured.
Eventer Tullyoran Cruise JRA, who has top-10 finishes at four-star level with Britain’s Izzy Taylor and most recently Australia’s Samantha Birch, has been sold to Japan to join Yoshi Oiwa’s string. Previously owned by Jocelyn Riley, the 12-year-old mare was registered in Japanese ownership on Christmas Eve.
“While I will be sad not to campaign her towards Tokyo, I couldn’t be happier to watch her progress with such a talented rider and I wish Yoshi the best of luck,” said Samantha, who has Hunter Valley II as her main Olympic prospect.
Quarrycrest Echo, who was part of the British gold medal-winning side at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and 2019 Europeans when owned by Jayne MGivern and ridden by Piggy French, was sold to Riding Club Crane for Toshiyuki Tanaka in December.
Eleven-year-old showjumper Evita SG Z has numerous wins and top placings on the five-star circuit with Italian rider Emilio Bicocchi — including winning a 1.50m class in Leipzig this month, is among the horses on Japan’s list of provisional entries for Tokyo. The mare was registered in Japanese ownership on the deadline, as was the 10-year-old gelding Jet Run, who jumped for Spain with rider Sergio Álvarez Moya at the 2019 European Championships and also has strong form on the international circuit.
A spokesman for the Japanese equestrian federation told H&H it has ownership (part or full) of nine showjumpers and nine eventers, with the majority of the rest owned by riders or other owners.
“We are pleased that we have good horses for the Olympics. We’re looking forward to good results in Tokyo,” he added.
Ben Maher’s European Championship team bronze and individual silver medal-winning ride Explosion W was sold in November to Pamela Wright and Charlotte Rossetter, with Ben keeping the ride and the horse moving from US to British-registered ownership. Amanda Derbyshire’s 2018 World and 2019 European Championship ride, Luibanta BH, is also now registered as in British ownership. The 12-year-old mare is owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC and, as of 16 December, Amanda is also listed as an owner.
Team GBR performance director Dickie Waygood told H&H they are “eternally grateful” to owners.
“Across the four disciplines we are exceptionally fortunate to have a number of horses and riders set to reach their peak performance levels in time for Tokyo,” he said.
“With a long journey, testing conditions and the pressure of the biggest global championship, medals will be hard fought and well deserved, but we are confident of sending a contingent of world-class combinations who are more than capable of podium performances.
“The opportunity to represent your country at an Olympics or Paralympics is a huge achievement, but to be a part of the team who puts a rider on the podium is what dreams are made of and we are all fully committed to making the teams the strongest and best prepared we’ve ever sent.”
Among those joining the Irish side is the 14-year-old mare Cas De Liberte BH, who brings a host of senior championship and team experience.
The daughter of Cracky Z jumped at the young horse World Championships in 2011 and was on the Belgian team with Niels Bruynseels at the 2017 Europeans, 2018 World Equestrian Games and Nations Cup finals in 2016 and 2017. She joins Richard Howley’s yard.
Richard said Ireland is “very strong” in terms of both riders and horsepower.
“She is a fantastic horse and has a world of experience behind her,” Richard told H&H, adding the mare arrived just before Christmas. “It is very nice to have a horse like her in my stable, especially in 2020 — an Olympic year. We are really excited to see what she can do.”
He added he has been working to get to know her and is hoping to have her out competing with him on the Sunshine Tour in the next few weeks.
“No matter how good a horse you have, you have to prove you are good enough as a partnership,” he said.
Denis Lynch scored a major win on new ride Cristello, triumphing in the CSI5* Golden Drum of Basel on 12 January. The 13-year-old stallion was previously campaigned by Dutch rider Kevin Jochems, before joining Denis’ team and Irish ownership in late November.
Cian O’Connor has an exciting new ride with Lazzaro Delle Schiave joining his strong string from Italy’s Massimo Grossato. The new combination won a CSI2* grand prix in Belgium in December, claiming another grand prix class at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida on 12 January.
“This year is a big year for me and for team Ireland,” said Cian after his Wellington win. “It’s only the build-up of the season toward the rest of the year, and obviously Tokyo will be in the back of my mind as the goal all year.”
A Horse Sport Ireland spokesman told H&H: “We are very lucky in Ireland to have many fantastic owners from all over the globe who support our Irish teams and athletes.
“It is testament to not only the talent of our athletes, but also their business expertise, that they continue to strengthen their string of horses to compete on the world stage.”
You may also be interested in…
Should the positive drug tests lead to disqualification, a different nation will take the Tokyo team spot
The decision was made at a hearing on 4 December
‘My job starts today to prepare us for the Olympics while ensuring the development of our athletes and our sport
Organisers hope the excitement of the Tokyo Olympics will benefit equestrian sport, as calls are made for all to support