London Calling: John’s eventing short list predictions

John’s thoughts on who’s gonna need a passport next week (as opposed to who’s going to need a stiff drink and a box of tissues). Photo:

From John via EN:

Sometime between now and tomorrow the USEF will release the US nominated entry and short list for the Olympic Games.  The nominated entry is a list of approximately 15 pairs that will be submitted as Olympic nominated entries.  The short list is a list of 10-12 pairs who will be sent to England for final Olympic preparations.  Those pairs will fly out in a week and the final squad will be named after the mandatory outing at Barbury in July.  This of course is in contrast to Team Canada’s approach of naming their team/squad Sunday night.

The excellent US vet team is finishing their evaluations at Bromont this morning.  The veterinary info will be compiled and presented to the selectors and then they will meet to make their short list nominations.  The Selectors are a critical part of the process, but their job is just to make nominations (recommendations)–they do not have power to formally appoint the team.  From there the selections will move on to the Eventing High Performance Committee and then on to the USEF Executive Committee for final approval this evening.

After pretty much every single US Olympic hopeful stepped up with a quality weekend at Bromont, the blessing and the challenge for the selectors this morning is that they have too many good pairs to choose from.  Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts/predictions about the short list, filed squarely under the “ridiculous commentary” category on EN.  Also please note that these thoughts don’t include any inside knowledge from the post-Bromont vet evaluations.  I’m going to work primarily from my list of 17 top Olympic prospects that I identified in May.

Phillip Dutton: Mystery Whisper is an obvious choice after he dominated the North American eventing scene all spring, no doubt about it.  Since I’d want Phillip on my eventing team riding anything with four legs, the selectors will send Phillip to England with two, perhaps three horses.  Mighty Nice and Fernhill Eagle are the two logical options.  I absolutely loved Mighty Nice at Rolex (10th) and he was superb at Bromont.  This horse is a beautiful jumper.  I give the slight edge to Mighty Nice if they send Phillip with just two.  There’s two on my predicted short list, perhaps three.

Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville: “Tate” is already in England (and enjoying himself quite a bit if Meg’s blogs are any indicator) so I consider him a lock for the short list.  This pair had two dominant performances at four-stars last year and looked good all spring including a second at Jersey.  That’s three.

Boyd Martin: Boyd and Neville are a lock, no doubt about it.  Boyd has been asking the selectors to send his three top horses to England–Neville, Remington, and Otis.  Before Sunday I would have said that in my opinion it didn’t make sense to leave someone off of the plane so that Boyd could have a third horse.  Boyd’s three clear rounds yesterday were so impressive that I think all three horses deserve to go, but I still lean towards a feeling that it makes more sense for the team to send another horse and rider pair instead of a third horse for Boyd.  I honestly don’t have a good read on what the selectors will do with this situation, but it’s going to be at least two for Boyd.  If forced to choose between Remington and Otis I would pick Otis because I believe he’s the better show jumper (there are two SJ rounds in the Olympic format) and he’s slightly faster in my opinion.  A 3rd at Rolex this year is also nice for Otis’ resume.  That’s five, maybe six.

Karen O’Connor and Mr. Medicott: When Karen first got the ride on Mr. Medicott I had serious questions about how quickly Karen would “click” with this horse.  She has gone way beyond that and they excelled at Rolex (4th) and Bromont (1st).  There’s no question in my mind that they deserve to be and will be on the short list.  That’s six, acknowledging that Phillip and Boyd could get an extra.

I feel confident about those six short list picks.  The next four picks are considerably more challenging because there are so many good options.  Here are what I think are the remaining top possibilities: Andromaque, Pawlow, Loughan Glen, Can’t Fire Me, Demeter, Rovano Rex, Ballynoecastle RM, Arthur, and Twizzel.  Remember that the Olympic format lends itself to having three sure cross-country horses and then potentially taking horses with higher risk and higher reward in the final two spots.  Also remember that the selectors might look at the final couple of short list picks as a change to develop future pairs.

Will Faudree: Both Pawlow and Andromaque have had inconsistent springs, but Will came through in the clutch as expected at Barbury, incurring just 4.8 jumping penalties for both horses combined on the weekend.  I’d want to send Will to England and see how he does at the mandatory outing.  I give the edge to Andromaque “Missy” if only because she beat Pawlow “Ernie” this weekend.  I have loved Andromaque since I first saw her go intermediate at Maryland a few years ago, so call me biased.  That’s seven.

Will Coleman and Twizzel: Will and Twiz finished 5th at Rolex.  They pulled rail down on Sunday at Bromont after skipping the cross-country.  I think the selectors want to give Will a shot at making the team and for good reason.  They will need a better dressage test at Barbury to have a shot at the team but I think they have earned a spot on the short list.  That’s eight.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen:  Aside from their Rolex cross-country round, this pair has had an excellent lead up to the Olympics, starting with a great result at Blenheim (5th) last year.  They finished third in the Bromont CIC3*.  I think there are some valid questions about whether Loghan Glen is experienced enough to compete at his best on the ultimate stage, but this horse’s upside on the flat might be enough to give him an edge over the remaining pairs.  That’s nine.

I’m going to be honest, the tenth spot is wide open in my mind.  I can’t even make up my mind as to who I would pick, much less who I think the selectors will pick.  Arthur finished second at Rolex, which is a huge boots to his resume.  I think Buck is a great teammate and I’d love to have him on the trip to England.  Can’t Fire Me is a spectacular horse, but I think he hurt his chances with XC time and rails at Bromont.  Most of all, I don’t know what to do with Demeter and Rovano Rex.  I’d put a 100% healthy Rovano Rex on the plane, but neither horse show jumped on Sunday and these horses’ seasons are up in the air.  Put a gun to my head and I would say Allison and Arthur because I want to see how they would compete in the big atmosphere at Barbury.  I have no idea what the selectors will do to be honest.  That’s ten-ish.

My 10 picks: Mystery Whisper, Mighty Nice, Manoir De Carneville, Neville, Otis, Mr. Medicott, Andromaque, Twizzel, Loughan Glen, and Arthur.

Link: List of USEF committees

Sometime later today we’ll bring you either a short list that we are either very sure about or 100% sure about and we’ll be very clear about which one it is.  Today we take one step closer to a US Olympic medal in London.  I apologize in advance for any server problems.  Stay tuned and go eventing.

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