The 2007 FEI Regional Olympic Dressage Qualification Event, which was scheduled to take place this week 24-28 October in conjunction with the 2007 Australian Dressage Championships at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC), is among the hundreds of equestrian events that have been cancelled since 25 August as a result of the equine influenza outbreak.

Teams of riders from Australia, New Zealand and Japan were to have competed for the two team dressage slots allocated to the Asia-Pacific region for the 2008 Games. Japan and New Zealand have never fielded a team of four dressage riders at an Olympic Games. As host nation for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Australia was represented by a team. At the 2004 Athens Games Australia participated with two individual riders.

The Japanese riders and horses are based in Germany and were due to fly into Sydney in early October. The New Zealand team was due to arrive last week.

“The cancellation was a major blow to International Dressage competition in our region”, EFA CEO Franz Venhaus said. “This would have been the first occasion where teams of international horses and riders had competed at SIEC since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.”

The affected National Federations have been negotiating with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to reschedule the Olympic qualifying event to early 2008. The FEI has agreed that, instead of transporting horses to Australia, the five judges that make up the Ground Jury will travel to competition venues in France, Australia and New Zealand in late January/early February 2008 to make their assessments.

Riders from Australia, Japan and New Zealand based in Europe and selected for a team position by their country’s National Federation will be assessed at a competition in the south of France in late January 2008.

Following this the Ground Jury will travel to Australia to assess Australian-based riders selected to represent Australia at SIEC 4-5 February 2008. The Ground Jury will then fly to New Zealand to assess that country’s team. Shortly after, the FEI will announce the two Asia- Pacific region nations that have gained qualification for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.