Looking to the Olympics

After Land Rover, what about the Olympics?
What should the team goals be? Who should be in contention for a spot?
What about other nati ons, which are likely the strongest counties coming?

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I think the UK is going to be an absolute powerhouse this year. Along with the Germans of course.

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I’ll bring over what I said on the LRK3DE thread:

Building on that to answer your questions, I think the clear primary team goal needs to be to bring home three jumping clears on cross country. Without that, no medal. Beyond that, people who can do it quickly and leave the poles up on the last day are preferable. Fulfilling those three criteria alone will be difficult enough that I don’t see the need to add any goals beyond that.

I think the usual suspects will be key contenders - Great Britain and Germany are obviously strong (although Germany will be missing Samurai du Thot after his early retirement), New Zealand could do well just picking out of people at the horse park this weekend (not that they don’t have others), Australia is always formidable and I’d say even more so with the lack of a drop score, the French should never be overlooked. The Japanese have been very impressive recently, and I don’t think finishing just off the podium at WEG was a fluke. I’d love to see them do well at their home Olympics.

Every team I’ve named is primarily geographically based where we have seen many recent cancellations. It will be interesting to see how the lack of major spring prep events affects those teams. In that regard, the US has a real advantage. Whether we can capitalize on it is a different issue.

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Maybe it is time to think outside the box.
I don’t see the U.S. with a real chance at the podium. Although with this new format, things could play out differently.
Of course, someone could have an extraordinary run and get an individual. But I think that’s even less likely.
Looking at the selection as a rebuilding tool would be my choice. Leave off Dutton and Martin, I think the team has no where to build with them. Smith and Mai Baum proved they can be the veteran anchor. Then add strong, younger and upcoming riders and horses. I am not familiar enough to pick myself. But look at it as, Who can gain the most from the experience vs. Who can eke out the highest middling score.

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The problem with adding “up and coming” riders is that so many of them, historically, prove to be one horse wonders or flashes in the pan. Almost every Olympic eventing squad in my lifetime has at least one “where are they now?” rider. The longevity for an eventer (horse or rider) is less assured than in dressage and show jumping because of the inherent danger of the sport.

I agree it’s a no-brainer to name Phillip and Boyd. We have lots of talented riders, but there is no one else in our country who churns out those kind of consistent results. A secondary benefit is that they are both generally stacked with horse power and can easily provide a direct reserve of equivalent caliber. And who knows how much longer we will have Phillip to rely on; this could be his last games for all we know. He has a top horse, why wouldn’t we use him?

Tami seems to be a logical third choice for similar reasons: putting up consistent results, currently well mounted with reserves. Can get the dressage score and the clean XC round.

I guess they will still have a traveling reserve this year? Liz seems like the logical choice to me.

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Agree with pretty much everything @Marigold has said though I might put NZ in with GB and Germany as top contenders - it’s only going to take 3 riders and with the Prices as two of the three…

Might be worth mentioning the Irish and the Swedes too as they usually seem to have a rider or two who really delivers at the championship events.

In terms of combinations for the US, I will reiterate my thoughts from the Kentucky thread. I think Phillip, Boyd, Liz, Doug, and Tamie are the potential rider pool at this point although I’m not sure which horses they will put them on. I think it might shake out as Philip on Z. Boyd probably on Tsetserleg maybe with On Cue as a direct reserve. Liz and Deniro Z. Doug and Vandiver with Starr Witness possibly as direct reserve. Tamie with Mai Baum and possibly En Vogue as direct reserve. Note that I am not commenting on whether these SHOULD be the selections, just that I think they are likely to be. I don’t think any other US riders are seriously in the conversation at this point.

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We are seeing the “phillip and boyd are no brainer” comments. Let’s try a new mentality since, if you are being realistic, there really isn’t a team medal chance in this Olympics. So what does that say about automatically putting Boyd and Phillip on the team? If you have no medal chance with those two then how does it hurt to put other riders on. Other riders will get attention and draw more horses to them if they get the exposure which works to bringing more depth and competition to the team.

I have no issue with either Boyd or Phillip. From personal experience I find them to genuinely nice people and I think great riders. But if you keep putting the same people of the team and the team keeps failing, you need to let some sunlight shine on the others to help them grow.

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Do they want medals or do they want to finish. That changes who you pick.

If you want to win you take chances by sending TS, ML, and maybe LHS. If you want for sure completions but likely not top placings then send BM, and PD although PD always performs best when it matters and I wouldn’t put a medal out of his reach.

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I think it will be Philip and Z, Boyd and Thomas or On Cue, and Tamie with Mai Baum (the horse was honest as the day is long, just had the frangible, and super impressive all around except that moment). I think Doug and VanDiver or Liz and Deniro would have been shoo ins as alternate if they hadn’t had rails in the SJ. Doug would be my pick for alternate.

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Replying to myself – I think whether they send ML and Scandalous depends on how much they think the conditions impacted her time. She gets amazing dressage and time always – but it depends on how MUCH time she gets XC whether she is a viable pick and I think, given the day, her decision to take time could be viewed either way. as a selector I’d look more toward her previous times as she’ll go for it at the Olympics.

And the U.S. has had team members who were selected when they were no longer as proficient as he or she once was. But it was a “no brainer” then to include.

No choice is guaranteed to work out. But with the lack of recent team success, doing the same things over and over and hoping for a different result is wishful thinking.

Although the furor around ML has largely died down, I refreshed myself this mornbing on some of the recent US international teams and was reminded that ML was named to the WEG team in 2018. At the time, there was a lot of pushback from the smurf public about how she should not represent the US based on history of bloody mouths etc., and then she was replaced by Will Coleman fairly late in the game for what was described as a minor horse issue.

I speculate that ML’s decision to not go for time on xc at Ky this year might have been a deliberate declaration that she is not interested in being named to the Olympic team. Her presence in eventing at this time seems to be limited to her one quality horse that she takes out for an occasional spin - maybe she likes it that way?

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I really think any team that can bring three riders home with no jumping penalties on the cross country (assuming they can put up halfway decent dressage scores, get vaguely near the time xc, and not put up a cricket score on the last day) is going to have a realistic chance at a team medal. I won’t sit here and promise you that Boyd and Phillip will get that done for the States, but I don’t think it’s at all an unreasonable bar for them, and I think it’s possible to find a third who can do the same. Therefore, I think the US has a team medal chance.

Do I think they will capitalize on that potential? No comment. That’s been the thing with our team for a long time - they have the ability to do what they need to do, but they often seem to come up short on the day. Time will tell if history is set to repeat itself this year or not.

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I don’t think there was any pretense to her withdrawal. The horse was lame after the last gallop. I don’t think the official press release said that, but it was well known. https://www.boydandsilvamartin.com/getting-settled-in-for-weg-at-tryon-international-equestrian-center/

I think she might have been told the clear was more important than the time. Who knows.

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Who knows? Not me. I just didn’t get any kind of vibe from her post xc interview on the livestream that qualification might be on her mind. On the other hand, big vibes from Boyd’s and Tamie’s social media.

Not for nothing, but you can’t finish on a low dressage score if you can’t finish, and the difference between a blow-it-out-of-the-water 21 or 22 in the dressage and a 28 or 29 (enough to land in that top Equiratings performance zone, for example) isn’t a lot compared to the consequences of getting eliminated or racking up 20 penalties for a refusal. As I mentioned in the livestream thread, all of the shortlisted contenders + Tamie have had issues on this front at major competitions in the last few years, including yesterday:

Liz and Deniro Z: eliminated for an XC fall at Aachen (though he went on to jump clear if a bit slow at Burghley)
Tamie and Lexus: the frangible here plus 40 penalties at Pan Ams
Boyd and Tsetserleg: the fall here, and 20 for the refusal at WEG that was huge for the team (though, again, he made it work when it counted at Pan Ams)
Doug and Quinn: arguably less high profile, but back to back eliminations for falls at Burghley and the Plains, and while he jumped around great all weekend, some of the dressage scores are in the “good but not in top contention” range
Philip and Z: eliminated for a fall at Aachen

If you look back at the history, the problem continues further back still (Rio, etc). Even a single pole or a few seconds on Sunday is so minor compared to the consequences of issues on cross country that it’s hard to see how you could sensibly optimize for anything else, especially with three counting scores from three. And that lack of a drop score is going to affect everyone and may shake up the leaderboard some, but the teams that have multiple combinations that can reliably turn in clear cross country rounds (Ireland, Germany, NZ, etc) are in so much of a better place than the U.S. seems to be at this point.

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I’ve been saying the same thing for years, but the problem isn’t our dressage scores, which maybe aren’t the best in the world but are generally ok … it’s the fact that we don’t consistently get around XC. Not just failing to make time, but having refusals or not finishing.

No longer having a drop score only makes that an even bigger problem.

Something with our current model is just not working to create consistent XC horses.

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I would take all that as a sign that we aren’t good enough to win in international competition.

Which is why I don’t understand why people are suggesting we send less experienced pairs instead of our current top riders; if our “best” have this much trouble, I don’t think talented yet less experienced up-and-comers will fair much better, even if we look at it as an investment for future teams.

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Agreed! I’m not sure how the answer to being worried about not getting three strong completions cross country could be sending people who aren’t proven to reliably get strong completions cross country in high profile international competition, but, I obviously don’t make the rules. But look, the Irish experience leading up to WEG2018 shows that if you’re serious about fixing this particular issue (which, in their case, was like a 50% clear rate in major international competition), you can do it if you focus on that being the strategy…

I think there’s also another theory to the bench-development process, which is to do more of what happens in showjumping land – there’s a system where teams for Nations Cups, etc, all include a mix of veterans and younger riders, so that we’re still developing people. There’s a different kind of pipeline problem with YRs in jumperland that’s more about money and horseflesh, but, at least there’s a theory about how to expose less experienced folks to team competition.

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My from my couch selection that has negative weight would be
Boyd/Tsetserleg TSF
Tami/Mai Baum
Doug/Vandiver
Alt. Liz/Deniro

I was honestly really impressed with Mai Baum at KY. I do think Tsetserleg is a really solid horse. He can perform very well in all 3. I don’t hold KY over him. He was prob too green to be on the team at WEG in 2018. Vandiver’s dressage has been incredible this spring. KY was not his best. It was super windy and he seemed distracted. He is a very solid XC horse. Has gotten better and better with age. If Deniero could just do his dang changes all in one test! I know Liz has worked her butt off on those. I think he is solid too.

Call me an optimist, but I really do think we have a shot this year!

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