Everyone was shocked as Bettina Hoy’s Ringwood Cockatoo, the leader after the dressage, refused in the show jumping arena at the CHIO Aachen, July 4, sliding onto his hindquarters and under the fence.
They finished the show jumping, but the 17-year-old, gray Irish gelding was lame afterwards and had to be withdrawn before the cross-country of the CIC***.
The x-ray and ultrasound examinations could not detect any severe problem, but he reacted to pressure on the muscles around the ischiatic region in his left hindquarters, which obviously had bruises and haematoma.
The German eventing committee, which had planned to name the team at Aachen, gave Hoy the chance to prove Cockatoo’s fitness one week later in the Huenxe CIC** in Germany. But in the middle of the week Hoy withdrew Ringwood Cockatoo, with whom she had almost won the individual and team gold medals in the 2004 Olympics, before being disqualified for crossing the starting line twice in the show jumping. Her disqualification dropped the German team to ninth.
Since the 2004 Olympics, Hoy, who is now 45 and rode on the bronze-medal German team at the 1984 Olympics, has won the 2006 team World Championship title, where she was sixth individually, finished third in the 2007 European Championships and won the CIC*** Luhmuehlen (Germany), all aboard Cockatoo.
Since Hoy, who is based with her Australian husband Andrew Hoy in Gatcombe (Great Britain), decided not to compete at Huenxe, she could not be nominated. The German eventing committee declined to take the horse into quarantine.
“Without question Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo were our strongest hope for an individual medal, but we have a super reserve bank,” said team coach Hans Melzer. “If that was not the case, we might have taken the risk to take him into the quarantine and see how he improves. But obviously the problem is more serious.
“We have excellent reserve combinations, and Andreas Dibowski and Butts Leon showed improving form and are in top condition now. For Ringwood Cockatoo it has also become a condition problem now. He has missed two gallops. We would really have liked to take him with us, but the time has run away. He was sound in trot but still lame in walk and canter and especially in the canter on the left hand, one could see that he did not like to bring weight on his hind leg.”
Melzer said fitness was a major factor in the decision. “The horses have to bring the condition with them to Hong Kong. We cannot go there with a horse whose tank is only half full,” he said. “It only makes sense to take a horse to Hong Kong in top form, and Bettina has accepted this decision as well. We will now have five horses, which are in top form, and I am very confident for a team medal.”
Hoy is, of course, devastated. “I blame myself for having closed the hackamore too tightly for the show jumping at Aachen,” she said. “Ringwood Cockatoo was irritated by that in the show jumping. But it is always the small things with me that end up in a drama. I am, of course, extremely unhappy. Ringwood Cockatoo is doing pretty well now. The bruises have already improved since Aachen, but I realize that he does not feel well, and so I decided not to compete him at Huenxe to fulfill the demands of the eventing committee.
“I have prepared myself and the horse in the last four years for the Olympic Games, and I did not wish anything more after Athens than to get a second chance for an Olympic medal with him,” she added. “This disappointment has to be overcome first. A small comfort is the 2006 team World Champion title, where we showed what we can do. That is why I almost feel at the moment more sad for my husband Andrew Hoy, who is just nominated as the reserve rider for the Australian team this year.“
But Hoy has already set her next goal: to compete Ringwood Cockatoo either in the CCI**** at Burghley (England) or Pau (France) this fall.