Francesco Zaza Nominated as Italian Individual Rider for 2021 Olympic Games

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 22:37
Francesco Zaza and Whispering Romance at the 2021 CDI-W Salzburg :: Photo © Lukasz Kowalski

Francesco Zaza has been nominated by the Italian Equestrian Federation (FISE) and Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) as the individual representative for Italy in dressage at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

The 37-year old Zaza will be riding his 18-year old Hanoverian mare Whispering Romance (by Weltmeyer x Bergkristall). 

From Eventing to Dressage 

Zaza began his international equestrian career in eventing, making his international show debut back in 2002 at the CIC1* in Rome on Rivo del Terriccio.

He competed him at the 2003 European Eventing Championships for Young Riders in Poland and placed 30th. A year later he piloted Joli Roger III to a 34th place at the 2004 European Young Rider Eventing Championships in Portugal. In 2005 the pair placed 9th at the Euros in Sweden. Zaza rode his first senior European Eventing Championship in 2007 and was 33rd. 

Zaza's last international eventing start was in 2010. He took a seven year break from international competition and returned in 2017 as a dressage rider, campaigning Whispering Romance at small tour level.  The pair moved to Grand Prix level in 2019, but never made it on a dressage team as Italy decided not to send riders to the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam due to "lack of medal chances". 

Olympic Debutant

Italy secured an individual starting place for the Tokyo Olympics after Norway's Ellen Birgitte Farbrot decided to withdraw her entry. 

The slot was reallocated to Italy and normally Russian born Italian Tatiana Miloserdova was supposed to go, but the Italian Equestrian Federation notified the Milan based rider that she is not eligible to compete in Tokyo because the ownership of her horse Florento Fortuna (by Sorento x Rubiquil)  had not been switched to the Italian nationality, when Miloserdova declared for Italy in 2018.

The next highest ranked Italian rider for the slot was Francesco Zaza. He achieved his MER scores in 2020 in Amsterdam and Ornago with marks between 70.3 and 70.6%. His last CDI start was at the 2021 CDI Salzburg in January (66.935%), his last national start was on 27 February at the CDN Ornago (64.348%). He has not competed since then, but accepted the invitation to go to Tokyo. 

"Thank you. It is a word that is often said but that I really hear it today," said Zaza. "Thanks to Whisper for trusting me and making me grow with her to this incredible milestone. Thanks to Coni, the Italian Equestrian Federation, to all its federal staff for this extraordinary opportunity that I take up with responsibility and pride. (...) Thanks to Laura Conz for the training, but above all for her heart that I have always felt close in this path."

Photo © Lukasz Kowalski

Related Links
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 Olympic Games
Miloserdova Not Eligible For Italian Olympic Ticket due to Wrong Owner Nationality
Olympic Slots Reshuffled after Wave of Withdrawals, Riders Declining to Go to Tokyo