Italy Is Still Searching For Its Best Team
They’ll need to recover from disaster at the CHIO Aachen (Germany), where they were last in the Nations Cup, writes Birgit Popp.
When the Italian team posted 68 penalties and finished last in the Nations Cup at Aachen on July 16, the only comforting aspect for Italian Chef d’Equipe Duccio Bartalucci was that it wasn’t his entire Athens Olympic team. The team’s two top combinations–Juan Carlos Garcia on Albin III and Gianni Govoni on Loro Piana Havinia–weren’t competing because Bartalucci wanted to test the other combinations still under consideration for the Olympic team.
Before Aachen, Roberto Arioldi, Bruno Chimiri and Emanuelle Fiorelli were the most likely to join the team. Plus, said Bartalucci, “I am also still thinking about Giorgio Nuti with Ninja, who had a clear round and a five-penalty round in the Nations Cup at Lucerne [Switzerland]. But the horse is still very young and inexperienced.”
Garcia, who was born in Colombia but has Italian nationality, was the sensational surprise at this year’s FEI World Cup Final at Milan (Italy), when he finished sixth among the top riders in the world. In the Super League Nations Cups at CSIO Rome (Italy) in May, he contributed to the third-placed team with clear and 12-fault rounds. In June, at the CSIO Rotterdam (the Netherlands) they provided a clear and a four-fault round on the sixth-placed team.
Athens will be Garcia’s third Olympics after his debut in 1988 in Seoul and his 25th individual ranking in 1992 for his native Colombia. He moved to Italy in 1987 to work for the San Patrignano Equestrian Center and changed his nationality in 2003.
Athens will also be Govoni’s third Olympics since 1992. He placed 18th individually in 2000. He’s also participated in three World Equestrian Games, finishing fifth in 2002 on Havinia.
After a successful young riders career–he won the European Championship team gold medal in 1988–he began riding on the senior team. In 1993, ’95, ’99 and 2001 he was on the Italian European Championship team, claiming 15th in both 1999 and 2001 aboard Las Vegas. The mare was also his partner in the 2000 Olympics.
Govoni was supposed to be on the 2003 European Championship team at Donaueschingen (Germany), but Havinia got hurt the week of the championships. It took some time for Havinia to recover, but since then she’s produced good results, except at Rotterdam where she had an uncharacteristic 14 and 8 faults.
Roberto Arioldi is also an experienced championship rider, having ridden on his first Nations Cup team in 1977. Arioldi participated in the 1986 World Championships and has contested four European Championships, although never reaching the top 20 individually. Athens would be the first Olympic start for the horse breeder, who was the reserve rider at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Chimiri was on the winning team in the Nations Cup Final in 2002, and he rode on the sixth-placed team at the 2003 European Championships, providing two four-fault rounds on Landknecht. In the La Baule (France) Nations Cup in May, Chimiri and Landknecht were eliminated in the first round and had 22 faults in the second round. But in the CSIO Lucerne (Switzerland) Nations Cup in June, they pro-vided the team with an eight-fault and a clear round.
The Chimiri name is familia to many show jumping fans. Bruno’s cousin is 2003 European Championship team member Vincenzo Chimiri. The pair grew up together, and they have supported each other in their riding careers.
For Fiorelli, Athens would also be his championship debut. He and Gibus des Monts have a solid record, including victory in December 2003 at the Grand Prix of CSI Milan (Italy).
Loro Piana Dime de la Cour: ch. m., 13, French-bred Selle Fran