Jumping Olympic nomination event underway at the Lummen CSIO4* Nations Cup in Belgium
Story and photos by Nicol Taylor.
Six Australian athletes participated in the first phase of their Olympic selection at the Lummen CSIO4* Nations' Cup in Belgium overnight.
Australian team selectors are onsite assessing athletes over the first round of the Nations' Cup class and the first round of the Grand Prix on Sunday. A further six combinations will be assessed at the Linz CSIO4* in Austria next weekend.
photo credit, Nicol Taylor
A great deal of work had gone into preparing the arena for the big Nations' Cup class with 14 nations competing and an additional 8 athletes starting in a bid to gain a certificate of capability for the London Olympics. Aussies Matt Williams on Bolero Van't Heike and James Passy on Carry Star both missed the opportunity on this occasion and will have another chance in the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Australia drew 12th with James Paterson-Robinson on Lanosso the first athlete round. He started very competently over the first section of the course but a long take-off distance at the vertical-oxer-vertical treble was too much ground to make up resulting in knock downs at both the back rail on the oxer and the vertical. The remainder of the track was completed very well but resulted in Lanosso finishing with eight faults.
Amy Graham and Bella Baloubet was second round for the Aussies, with the combination completing a strong round only having a back rail of the treble oxer for a score of four faults.
Julia Hargreaves and Vedor have been based in Europe for the past 12 months and showed some of the experience gained from competing at the international level with a very scopey round marred yet again by the middle element of the treble, and incurring a time fault to finish on a solid five fault round.
Photo Paul Athanasoff on Wirragulla Nicklaus Photo credit Nicol Taylor
Regular European campaigner and current Australian National Champion Paul Athanasoff and Wirragulla Nicklaus were the last combination and they delivered a good round with the back rail on a 1.50m oxer being the only error for a finish of four faults.
The riders will carry these first round scores to be added to their results from the Grand Prix on Sunday to determine which riders will progress to the next round of selection.
The Course designer for the Nations' Cup competition was Italian Vezzani Uliano and given the lead up wet weather conditions, he delivered a solid course which tested the 14 nations and delivered an exciting competition. The 12 fence course was a consistent 1.50m throughout with the treble up early at number 5 consisting of a 1.50 vertical, 7.90m to a square oxer and 7.80m to the vertical.
The water jump line proved the main test with a 3.8m water followed 28.0m bending to a black rail style fence and a further 7 strides to a 1.50m oxer. The cloud and sun shadows did cause more water faults than usual at this level, however most riders were then focussed on the style line ahead. The final test was a tall vertical followed at 28.5m to an oxer, 11.20m vertical double.
The Nations' Cup class was a very close affair and at the end of the first round the host nation Belgium and Canada were on 4 faults, a further six nations were on 8 faults then Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland and Australia missing the cut for the second round with less than 15 faults.
The eventual winners were Italy who delivered three clear second rounds to beat front runners Belgium and Canada into second place.
The Nations' Cup competition is an excellent avenue for all developing countries to bring out the new talent and blend with experienced athletes to test their current 'status', and make sure future Olympic team riders are well versed in the difficulties and differences of team riding. The event also provides National Selectors with an excellent observation point on Australia's riders in the lead up to London.
The Lummen CSIO4* Grand Prix class starts at 2pm Sunday 6 May (European summer time).