Baker Withdraws, No Irish Team at 2021 European Dressage Championships

Sat, 09/04/2021 - 21:47
Irish fans jubilating at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, where Ireland clinched an Olympic team spot :: Photo © Astrid Appels

For the second time this year, Ireland sees its dressage team goals go up in smoke at a major (inter)continental Championship. After team trainer Johann Hinnemann decided not to send a historic team to the Tokyo Olympics, Ireland will not see a team compete in Hagen after the withdrawal of one rider.

A team reserve was not selected.

History Denied

HInnemann's decision not to field a team to Tokyo set bad blood in the Irish dressage community as the long strived goal of team representation at the Olympics was finally achieved in 2019. It caused a rift between Dressage Ireland and the motherboard, Horse Sport Ireland, as well as led to several lawsuits that made HSI lose much support within its dressage community.

HSI did win the battle in court as an independent arbitrator found that the selection process was conducted fairly. 

Team for the Europeans

For the 2021 European Dressage Championships, the California based Hinnemann selected three riders and no reserve.

The team riders were Anna Merveldt (Esporim), Alex Backer (Dutchman) and Carolyn Mellor (Gouverneur M).

Dane Rawlins in Rotterdam in 2019
Both Dane Rawlins (Espoire) and James Connor (Casino Royal), who had achieved their MER score to compete in Tokyo, refused to be considered for Hagen.  "For me there is no point if your cornerman not on side," Rawlins stated to Eurodressage about his non-availability for the team.

Baker Out, No Team

Unfortunately today Alex Baker withdrew from the team. Her 13-year old KWPN gelding Dutchman (by Jazz out of Imagine) is not fit to compete. 

"My horse has a minor injury and so we can’t compete next week," Alex confirmed to Eurodressage.

As no team reserve was selected, Ireland will have no team for the nations' competition. 

Baker last competed Dutchman internationally at the CDI Hartpury in July, where they posted 67.413% in the Grand Prix and 68.234% in the Special. 

The 2021 European Dressage Championships in Hagen start on Monday 6 September with the horse inspection. The first group will compete in the Grand Prix on Tuesday 7 September 2021.

Related Links
Ireland to Send Team of Three to 2021 European Dressage Championships
Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland Arbitrator Dismisses Olympic Dressage Appeal
HSI Makes U-Turn after Legal Pressure: Rawlins and Connor Get Certificate of Capability
Rawlins and Connors Lodge Appeal Against HSI's Decision not to Send Team to Tokyo