The final much-coverted spot for automatic qualification for London 2012 for group F and G went to underdogs Japan after a nail biting and somewhat controversial show jumping phase.
The New Zealand team actually won the three—way team completion on a score of 171.8 but, as they have already qualified, it was a two way fight between Australia and Japan. The Australians were the bookie’s favourite to secure qualification but it was not to be. Behind the Japanese after cross-country, their challenge evaporated in the show jumping after Brook Staples and Ever So Clever were eliminated. The horse took a dislike to an oxer and refused and demolished it twice – as the team was already down to three riders following Lucinda Fredericks’ fall from Nysa De Petra on the cross-country phase, Brook’s elimination meant that the team could not complete. In a statement Technical Delegate Gillian Kyle said: ‘After reviewing the video of Brook’s round it was determined that the horse did not go through both sets of red flags on the right hand side of the fence when it went through the wing on its second attempt. Under FEI rules, two refusals in the show jumping results in elimination.’
The sum total of this was Olympic qualification for Japan. Their highest placed combination was Kenki Sata with Chippieh who finished 12th, followed by Takaeki Tsuchiya with Jackabee in 18th and Atushi Negishi with Mavrick Du Granit in 30th. Their final team member Takayuki Yumira with Hooligan finished 31st. Like Ireland, the Australians will now have to rely on qualifying enough individual riders for London 2012 to form a team.
Report: Sue Polley. Images: Lucy Hall