2004 Olympic Australia Eventing Team Roster

Aug 13, 2004 - 10:00 PM

Is A Fourth Consecutive Gold Medal Possible For The Australians

Given this line-up, they’re in with an extremely strong shot, writes Kathy Harris.

Australia has stuck with their tried and proven riders in an attempt to capture a record fourth consecutive team gold medal in the Olympic three-day event.

Their secret weapon at the last three Olympic Games has been to select their team members as late as possible, thus ensuring that the horses chosen are really sound and in form. This year’s five combinations combine years of experience, coupled with youthful enthusiasm and abundant ability.

Andrew Hoy will be competing at his sixth Olympic Games and is looking to set his own Olympic record by winning a fourth consecutive gold medal in the same event.  The undisputed hero of the Australian side, Hoy will ride his top horse Mr. Pracatan, on whom he placed fifth at the rain-drenched Badminton CCI**** (England) in May and also won the CIC-W World Cup qualifier at Luhmuhlen (Germany) in June.

Hoy’s experiences in the United Kingdom and in Germany have lifted him to the top of the Australian standings, and he has also been named on the reserve list with Moonfleet and Master Monarch.

Phillip Dutton, a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner, also makes a return to the team with Nova Top, a scopey Thoroughbred who oozes power and endurance. Instead of competing at the wet and muddy Badminton in an effort to catch the Australian selectors’ eyes, Dutton competed at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, where Nova Top finished second. Dutton describes Nova Top as a slightly nervous horse but very brilliant.

Stuart Tinney and Jeepster unofficially finished first in the team competition at Sydney in 2000 (in which individuals did not receive placings). Following some time off after the 2000 Games, Tinney and Jeepster justified their inclusion on this year’s team with a strong second place in the 2003 Adelaide CCI**** (Australia). The quiet man of the Australian team, Tinney rode Jeepster to sixth in the CCN*** at the 2000 Olympic venue at Horsley Park in June. This event was run in the new Olympic format event, and riders found the two rounds of show jumping to be crucial in the final placings, with several combinations dropping down the order after failing to ride a strong and effective second round.

Tinney has another young horse nominated to the reserve list, the warmblood-Thoroughbred mare Carrera. If wins were scored on looks, this mare would be a standout winner. Although relatively inexperienced, Carrera can produce an extraordinary dressage performance, and she’s courageous cross-country. So, if Jeepster fails to continue impressing selectors, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her included in the final team.

The exciting find of the Sydney event was Rebel Morrow and Oaklea Groover, who were in equal second place after the dressage and went clear cross-country in the CCN***. They went into the show jumping with two rails in hand and recorded a well-deserved win. You could only describe Oaklea Groover as a machine–a strong-boned Thoroughbred saved from the “knackery” by Morrow and educated into a “complete” eventer; he is bold cross-country and a very careful jumper. Morrow has been one of the junior riders that selectors have been nurturing, and her initial years of riding anything and everything at the Appaloosa national shows created a well-balanced and knowledgeable rider. Morrow and Oaklea Groover placed fifth at the 2003 Adelaide CCI**** and ninth at the 2003 Taupo CCI*** (New Zealand) CCI.

Olivia Bunn and her lovely bay, GV Top Of The Line, fill out the final five. This horse’s ability was evident during the events leading up to the 2000 Sydney Games, but Bunn wisely put him aside and allowed him to mature fully. Training one spring in the United States with Dutton gave the combination some much-needed experience. Bunn and GV Top Of The Line were included in the Australian team at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, where they finished in seventh place individually.

Another seventh place in the 2003 Adelaide CCI**** put this combination firmly in the sights of selectors, as did a win at the 2003 Puhinui CCI*** (New Zealand). The icing on the cake was a heart-stopping win at the 2004 Taupo CCI*** after being held over at the final trot-up.

Team Coach Wayne Roycroft said, “I’m very excited about the team that the selectors have chosen. It has a good blend of experienced riders and horses, along with younger, yet highly talented combinations.” Jim Dunn, chairman of selectors, said, “This was a very difficult decision due to the depth of talent of the horses and riders available for selection. The team will give Australia every possible chance of doing well.”

Team Members

MR. PRACATAN: b. g., 11, Thoroughbred.
ANDREW HOY: age 45, based in Gatcombe, U.K.

NOVA TOP: ch. g., 12, English-bred Thoroughbred, by Ra Nova–Expo Topic.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 40, based in West Grove, Pa.

JEEPSTER: b. g., 16, Australian-bred Thoroughbred by King Apollo.
STUART TINNEY: age 39, Maraylya, New South Wales.

OAKLEA GROOVER: ch. g., 9, Australian Thoroughbred by Nediym–Lady Chaudiere.
REBEL MORROW: age 27, Kilcoy, Queensland.

GV TOP OF THE LINE: b. g., 12, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred by Golden Glimmer


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