Irish dressage riders Dane Rawlins and James Connor have finally accepted defeat in their bid to make up a team for the Tokyo Olympics, while Italian and Dutch riders have fallen foul of administrative errors which mean their horses cannot travel.

On Friday (July 2) David Sharpe SC, a second independent arbitrator nominated by Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland (SDSI) dismissed Rawlins and Connor’s appeal against Horse Sport Ireland (HSI)’s decision not to send a full dressage team to Tokyo. He said HSI had conducted its selection process fairly. Its athlete nomination policy was in place from 2019 and widely communicated to all relevant athletes.

After learning that Ireland was pulling out on the eve of the June 21 nominated entry deadline for Tokyo, the two riders appealed to HSI, but were only partially successful, so took the appeal to a higher authority. The dispute raged all week and gathered headlines around the world.

HSI says that “ in the interests of the dressage community and the sport horse industry” it will waive its right to costs.
Meanwhile two other dressage combinations have been ruled out of Tokyo, falling foul of registration oversights similar to the case of jumper Daniel Bluman. They are Dinja van Liere for the Netherlands, who has hit problems with top string Hermes, and Italy’s Tatiana Miloserdova.

Their top horses were not registered in the nationality of the countries they will represent by January 15. This rule only applies at Olympic Games, not other FEI championships. The FEI issues reminders well before the deadlines but there are always a few cases in any Olympic year.

Hermes, a nine-year-old, only recently came to attention as a selection prospect after top three finishes at the Dutch selection trials in May. But then it was found his Dutch owner Joop van Uytert had been accidentally re-registered as German on July 9 2018 on the FEI database, on the basis of his German postal address.

The Dutch federation (KNHS) is blaming an as yet unnamed intern at FEI HQ in Lausanne. However, it is acknowledged that neither the rider, KNHS or van Uytert had checked Hermes’ nationality before the Tokyo deadline.

The KNHS issued a press release headlined “FEI keeps Hermes away from the Olympic Games” and wants to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but says the FEI is not co-operating.

KHNS technical director Iris Boelhouwer said, “We are really stunned that this can happen. It is perfectly clear to everyone that an extremely unfortunate mistake has been made here, but it is not being resolved in a timely manner. That is a huge disappointment for the Dutch dressage team in the run-up to the final team selection, but especially for the rider Dinja van Liere and the owner it is of course a terrible deception. We are currently investigating all further legal options and steps to rectify this.”

Van Liere is still eligible to compete with another horse.

Norway handed back its individual dressage place last month, which was offered to Italy. But top rider, Russian-born Tatiana Miloserdova, has hit the same problem.

The rider has lived in Italy for 30 years. But while she switched to Italian nationality in 2018, her horse’s nationality was not changed from Russian. Florento Fortuna’s status was not noticed in time by either the rider or the Italian equestrian federation, FISE. FISE has entered Francesco Zaza instead.