The possibility of the Ukrainian show jumping team participating in the Rio Olympic Games has been called into question as Oleksandr Onyshchenko, the organizer and funding behind the team, has been charged with fraud in Ukraine.
As the team for this year’s Rio Olympic Games was named this week, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the selection of the team for the Games 20 years ago.
Back in 1996, before the Atlanta Olympic Games, the U.S. selection was hard and fast objective trials. Riders and horses had to jump in eight rounds of competition over the course of three months in Wellington, Fla., Paoli, Pa., North Salem, N.Y., Devon, Pa., and Gladstone, N.J.
When 17 of the world’s best horses and riders qualified for the jump-off of the Longines Grand Prix of Rotterdam, everyone knew it was going to be a fast and furious race for the top check.
And when the dust cleared, it was the charismatic Luciana Diniz from Portugal who ended up on top with her athletic Fit For Fun. Diniz made a particularly daring turn in the jump-off to take the win—a turn that got the best of some.
"Everything went as I had hoped," said the Dutch chef d’equipe John Rockx after his riders vaulted the team from the Netherlands into the lead in the CDIO Nations Cup at Rotterdam with their Grand Prix scores.
Clark Montgomery had been leading after the dressage, but finished the ERM CIC*** at the Bramham International Horse Trials with second place aboard Loughan Glen after pulling one rail and then jumping faultlessly on cross-country. China’ Alex Hua Tin took the win on Don Geniro, moving up from second after the dressage with clean jumping rounds.
Horses are for sure the ultimate humblers, as Rothchild proved tonight. McLain Ward rode a remarkable winning streak into the Devon Horse Show.
He'd won grand prix classes at the Old Salem Farm horse shows (N.Y.) and the Rome CSIO before coming to Devon and quickly winning three of the FEI open jumper classes in the week's schedule. So, he was for sure the hot favorite to top the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon. And as he and Rothchild landed off the next-to-last fence of the jump-off, he was well on his way to a winning time.
"You'd better step back, Jack's going to go crazy," Louise Serio advised the group of people standing at the in-gate of the Dixon Oval watching Liza Boyd's handy round aboard Like I Said.
Jack Towell was there, watching his daughter intently. And as she landed over the last, huge oxer, he jumped up and down, whooping and clapping, proving Serio right. "See, I told you. Crazy!" Serio said with a laugh.