Spain Invokes Substitution Rule, Divina Royal Replaces Sorento for Olympic Team Competition

Mon, 07/26/2021 - 22:15
Jose Antonio Garcia Mena and Sorento in the 2021 Olympic Grand Prix :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The Spanish equestrian federation is the first country to invoke the substitution rule, created specifically for the new Olympic format to appease federations when teams of four were reduced to three for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Substitution Rule

The FEI Rule 609.2.1 reads: 

A “Substitution” is defined as any change of a team Athlete/Horse combination that is made after the relevant Pre-Competition Change Deadline pursuant to the process set out in article 609.2.3 below. Substitution of non-team Athletes is not permitted. An Athlete/Horse may only be substituted with the Ap Alternate Athlete/Reserve Horse.

A Substitution may only be made provided it is completed during the period between the end of the Grand Prix up to two (2) hours before the start of the Grand Prix Special, according to the rules under the Dressage section

Team Vet to Confirm Illness

All what is needed to substitute a horse, is a certificate from the country's team veterinarian. The FEI rule stipulates:

Substitutions will only be allowed in the event of an accident or illness of an Athlete and/or Horse, i.e. for medical/veterinary reasons, and upon the presentation of the appropriate medical/veterinary certificate of the team doctor/team veterinarian whose decision shall be final.

Spain Strengthens Team with Divina Royal

Mena presenting Divina Royal at the horse inspection
Spain is now the first country to invoke the substitution rule, swapping Jose Antonio Garcia Mena's Grand Prix test ride Sorento (by Sandro Bedo x Florestan - owner Madeleine Winter-Schulze (GER)) for the travelling reserve horse Divina Royal (by Desperados x Weltmeyer - owner Jose Diaz Bravo (ESP)).

Sorento's team nomination was slightly controversial from the start. The chestnut had produced the higher score average to his stable mate Divina Royal, but at the final team selection trial at the CDI Grote Brogel in Belgium at the beginning of July, Divina Royal outscored Sorento in the Grand Prix Special and showed more potential for growth than Sorento. 

Spain made it into the Olympic Team Finals by the skin of its teeth, placing eighth out of eight qualifying teams. 

Team trainer Rudolf Zeilinger has now decided to swap Sorento for Divina Royal. Officially Sorento is not sound. The Westfalian gelding was fit in the Grand Prix and scored  69,146% to finish 32nd. 

Photo © Astrid Appels

Related Links
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 Olympic Games
Second Time's a Charm: Garcia Mena Gets Sorento as Olympic Option from Isabell Werth
Photo Report: Spanish Olympic Fever Wave at 2021 CDI Grote Brogel