11 June 2012
The formerly fuzzy image of the faces of Australia's eventing team for the London 2012 Olympics has been clearing over the past few weeks. It's not been without drama, such as the news that Australian stalwart Clayton Fredericks was laid flat in a French hospital after a fall at Saumur, and not without sheer peaks of joy Down Under, such as Chris Burton's one-two placings at the same event. And not without heartbreak, as Stuart Tinney announced the Games-changing injury to his top horse, Panamera. As we rolled into June, and stand here less than 50 days out from the Olympics, you can count no less than four Australian riders in the top 10 of world eventing rankings by the FEI: Stuart Tinney (6), Shane Rose (8), Chris Burton (9), and Clayton Fredericks (10). Not far behind are their compatriots Megan Jones (13), Emma Jones (15) and Emma Mason (20). We must pause here for a ceremonial tipping of the hat to Australia, since former Aussies Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton of the USA are also in the top ten, giving Oz six out of ten riders, based on place of birth. It's been proven time and time again, and in so many different countries, that rankings don't always translate to team placings, so we're watching the Australian and New Zealand selections for eventing with special interest. Another reason for the special interest in Australia: they're bound to be a threat in London, no matter who's on the team. You need to read all the way down to number 38 in the list to find the name of 42-year-old eventer Tim Boland from Wyong Creek in New South Wales. He's not well-known to American eventing followers but he rode into the picture this weekend with a dominant win in the final Australian event before London, the?55th?annual CCI3* Melbourne Three-Day Event. Remember his name. Boland and his 11-year-old bay Hanoverian gelding?GV Billy Elliot?led the CCI3* class from start to finish. The combination received a personal-best dressage score of 35.00 on the first day of competition and then delivered a solid run over a wet cross-country course. When Monday's showjumping dawned, they cleared the vetting and jumped a clear round to seal the win. Finishing right behind Boland was another Australian team contender, Shane Rose on APH Moritz. ?I'm absolutely over the moon, I always talk about my horse because they?re the true athletes in this sport. He?s an unbelievable horse and I'm so proud of him, he jumped the house down tonight, I couldn?t be happier,? Boland, who breaks and trains young Thoroughbred racehorses at the Limitless Lodge division of his Australian Event Horse Centre, said on Monday. ?I?d put all this pressure on myself leading into this event because if I?d had a problem (here) I was gone. I had to make it happen and without a good horse you can't make it happen so I'm very happy,? Boland said. Boland was philosophical about his campaign to make the team and, after a fall at Albury on cross-country, wrote on his web site "Whenever you get the opportunity to represent your country it is exciting, but an Olympic Games would be the ultimate. In the past I have always sold my top horses and I certainly don't regret this, as it enabled me to build a solid future. Now though I am keeping my good horses, and resisting all offers, (in order) to follow my dream." Melbourne was? the last opportunity for Australian-based event riders to perform well in front of national selectors before the naming of the Olympic team for London. The final team members' names will be announced at the end of the month. Thanks to Equestrian Australia for assistance with quotes from Tim Boland.
To learn more:
Visit Tim Boland's Australian Event Horse Centre web site.
Fran Jurga is a freelance writer and editor from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Her award-winning blogs include The Jurga Report for EQUUS Magazine and War Horse News on the 2011 Steven Spielberg film. Fran is the founder of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal and writes a specialist Hoof Blog.? Fran wrote the WorldRides blog for the Hong Kong equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Discover WEG blog for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.You can follow Fran on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for more news about the horse world.