From early in the morning you could feel the atmosphere start to build at the Sydney CDI-W. The Sydney - event is all about the last Dressage team qualifying event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, which is at stake. The qualifier will be run at two separate venues and is open to teams from the FEI Olympic Groups F (Africa and Middle East) and G (South East Asia and Oceania). Due to quarantine restrictions, the qualifier will be held in two parts, one in each hemisphere, as riders and horses from Olympic Groups F and G are based in both Australasia and Europe. The first part is now in Sydney (AUS); the second part will be held in Ermelo (NED) next week on 2 November. The same judges will be used at both legs of the regional qualifier. The panel will be FEI 5* judges Stephen Clarke (GBR), who will also be the President of the Ground Jury at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Gotthilf Riexinger (GER) and Susan Hoevenaars (AUS), plus FEI 4* judges Mariëtte Sanders-van Gansewinkel (NED) and Raphaël Saleh (FRA).
Three nations – Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa – will be seeking Olympic qualification. The two best placed teams overall will join Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the USA, which have already qualified.
For the much awaited Australian Sports Commission FEI Grand Prix CDI-W today, both the arena and spectators were in good form. The clouds disappeared which helped to heat up the competition. By the end of the day, Rachael Sanna and Jaybee Alabaster wowed the crowd with a brilliant test scoring 69.106%.
Second came Heath Ryan with a much more relaxed Regardez Moi with a score of 66.128. Third went to New Zealandrider, Louisa Hill on Bates Antonello with a score of 66.1287. This was quite an achievement considering this was only the fourth Grand Prix for the horse and Louisa has only been back in the saddle for three weeks after breaking her hand!
In regards to the Regional Qualifier for the London Olympics, the New Zealand Team were first off the rank. All four did well. The combined score of the top three was 194.767. Only two of the Australian Team competed today which means the Aussies will have to wait for the Regional Qualifier in Ermelo (NED) to find their team results.
After some great tests in the Grand Prix, it is guaranteed that the Hamilton Island Grand Prix Freestyle will be exciting for all those who come and support the best riders of the southern hemisphere.