Olympics in Sight

Article Index
Horse Of The Year

By Lisa Potter

Grand Prix riders took a step closer today to qualifying for the Olympic Games 2012. Vanessa Way (Taranaki) and former Olympian Louisa Hill (Auckland) each gained a qualifying score. To gain a qualifying score, riders had to score an average of 64% from the ground jury of five and also 64% from the 5 star judge Mary Seefried (AUS). This gives the pair part one in their journey towards achieving a Minimum Eligibility Score (MES), of which two are needed as a base qualifier for the London Olympics.

However, the National Olympic Committee in conjunction with Equestrian Sports NZ , is yet to confirm the New Zealand qualifying criteria. Traditionally this is higher than the MES, set by the FEI. Way however should be safe with today’s high score of 67%, rarely achieved in New Zealand at this level. “I’m just delighted,” said Way. “That’s our best score ever and we still made some mistakes, so it’s really exciting. “It’s fired me up and I’m definitely considering travelling over to compete in Australia next month.”

Penny Castle, although she finished second overall in the Grand Prix class on 66.48% narrowly missed out on a MES, receiving 63.72% from the international judge and needing 64% overall for the MES. A course error in this test proved costly. Louisa Hill and Bates Antonello, with their trademark flamboyant work finished third on 65.19%, the test marred by mistakes. Bill Noble (Hamilton) and the Clydesdale stallion Airthrey Highlander took fourth spot on 61.74%, Shiwon Green(Cambridge) and Gosh in fifth on 61.68%, then Sally Field-Dodgson (Canterbury) and Amberleigh Elite on 61.53%.

The remainder of the field pulled off some moments of quality, but spoiled by mistakes and inconsistencies. Sally Isaac with Vincent St James displayed lovely soft passage and Ottilie Upshall and Tama Park Bradman are surely one of the most energetic combinations. Tomorrow’s Musical Freestyle test will decide the overall Horse of the Year champion and with so little separating the top of the leaderboard, the win could be anyones.