After the final qualifier was held last weekend at the Raleigh CDI, in North Carolina Michael Barisone decided that while he had earned his certificate of qualification, he would withdraw from the trials, and pass on the trip to California. Neruda, had been impressive throughout the winter season in Florida, but Barisone and co-owner Jane Duvalsky, decided it was in the best interest of the nine-year-old KWPN Dutch Gelding (x Haarlem), who had achieved more than they had hoped in his first year at Grand Prix and it was time for a break.
That opened the door, for Tami Crawford and Dakota from College Grove, Tenn. to move into the top rankings of American Grand Prix Dressage, and compete for a second time in an Olympic Selection Trials. Crawford and Dakota the Oldenburg gelding (Donnerhall x Finette x Donnauwind) participated in Florida in the 2000 Olympic Selection Trials and then Dakota went inexplicably lame. Thousands of dollars of tests revealed nothing, and then he developed pleurisy. Crawford thought she may never be able to ride her longtime partner again. But he came back stronger than ever, finishing fifth in 2003 World Cup Trails in Los Angeles. The pair had a good season in Florida, where Crawford concentrated on showing only Dakota, while she moved her other horse Markant up to Grand Prix in training.
Crawford had been on the phone all weekend keeping a close eye on the results from Raleigh, as her standings were just fractions of a percentage point from the others hovering in 12th position. By Sunday, she had accepted she would not be packing her trunks for the Flight to San Juan Capistrano. But the surprise decision by Barisone changed things, unfortunately too late for her to catch the cheaper flight which had been arranged by the USET.
Several of the east coast horses shipped out today, on a flight from USET Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ, while Crawford scurried to get herself and her horse to Cincinnati, Ohio for a 3AM flight. “I am thrilled beyond my wildest imagination.” said the ever exuberant and upbeat mother of two boys. “Dakota really deserves this honor. He is so strong, and so brave, and just kept getting better all the time. After all we’ve been through together; we get another chance at our moment in the sun.!” Crawford’s husband Jay is gathering family including their two boys Mac and Will and a sizable assortment of family from across the country.