Austrian Olympic Team Penciled In Despite Big Absence of Combinations at 2024 CDI Achleiten

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 15:16
2024 CDI Achleiten
Victoria Max-Theurer and Abegglen win the GP and Special at the 2024 CDI Achleiten

With 40 days to go until the Olympic Games, the Austrian Olympic dressage team is taking shape following the final team selection trial at the 2024 CDI Achleiten on 14 - 16 June 2024.

Six riders were long listed for Austrian Olympic team selection, but only two of them competed at the mandatory team trial.

No Shows at Mandatory Olympic Trial

Hosted at Castle Achleiten - home of Austrian NF (OEPS) president Elisabeth Max-Theurer and her daughter, multiple Olympian Victoria Max-Theurer - the international dressage competition was scheduled to be a big head-to-head of the Austrian Olympic squad and A-squad riders as a final show down for Olympic spots. The Olympic long list contains four Olympic squad riders (Bacher, Lehfellner, Max-Theurer, Schumach) and two A-squad riders (Porsche, Voglsang).

In the lead-up to the event, Christian Schumach (Te Quiero, Amplemento), Victoria Max-Theurer (Abegglen, Topas), Stefan Lehfeller (Roberto Carlos MT), Diana Porsche (Dahoud) and Lisa Wernitznig (Quintus) were marked in the press release as the big contenders in Achleiten. 2021 Olympian Florian Bacher (Fidertraum) was already excused because his horse was coughing. No word was mentioned about the absence of A-squad rider Renate Voglsang (Furst Ferdinand zum Fasenhohe).

However at the start of the event, several riders withdrew: Schumach cancelled his start with Amplemento as well as with Te Quiero and both Diana Porsche and Lisa Wertnitznig were absent. Porsche told Eurodressage she had high fever and "the doctor said the risk for a myocarditis is too high when I’m doing sport." 

Also during the weekend, horses dropped like flies: Stefan Lehfellner scored 65.544% in the Grand Prix and pulled his horse from the Special. Max-Theurer and Topas won the Grand Prix for Kur (71.282%) but then she pulled him from the freestyle.

Of the actual team candidates, only Max-Theurer on Abegglen rode two rounds. They won the Grand Prix (73.283%) and the Special (72.617% )

Olympic Team Penciled in

Bacher at the 2022 World Championships
In the concluding press release of the CDI Achleiten, Elisabeth Max-Theurer indicates who the clear team candidates for Paris are:  Victoria Max-Theurer, Florian Bacher and Christian Schumach. 

"Max-Theurer, in her role as President of the Austrian Equestrian Federation, is looking ahead to Paris 2024 with confidence despite the bad luck with injuries in the red-white-red dressage squad following the drop-outs of Florian Bacher (Fidertraum) and Christian Schumach (Te Quiero SF) before the last Olympic test," the press release said. 

Sissy Max-Theurer was quoted saying, "fortunately, it concerns minor things with the horses in question. Both will be able to resume training for Paris after short breaks. We still have 40 days until the opening of the Olympic Games, 44 days until the first Olympic dressage competition. The most important thing is that three top-fit ​​horses and riders are at the start on day X. There is always a bit of luck involved.”

The Bare Minimum

Schumach and Te Quiero SF at the 2021 Olympics
Victoria Max-Theurer and the 14-year old Abegglen (by Ampere x Carabas) competed at only two CDI's this year, both in Austria: after the Europeans in Riesenbeck there was a 9-month break. They returned at the CDI St. Margarethen last week where they rode only one test, the Grand Prix and won it with 73.283%. They withdrew from the second test. At their home show in Achleiten they won both.

Also Florian Bacher competed his 15-year old Fidertraum (by Fidertanz) only twice: in Basel in January he got 72.087% in the Grand Prix and in Mannheim in May he posted 72.587%.

Christian Schumach and Franziska Fries' 13-year old Te Quiero SF (by Totilas x Loutano) only did one CDI this year. After the Europeans in Riesenbeck he did not compete internationally for nine months and rode just one test at the CDI St. Margarethen (71.478% for 3rd place), withdrawing from the freestyle.

The Achleiten press release did not hint at any name for a reserve team rider or if other riders are even in play for team selection.

A Look at the Scores

Diana Porsche and Dahoud
It is always interesting to look at the scores that have been achieved. 

Last year's European Championship fourth team member, Stefan Lehfellner on Max-Theurer's Roberto Carlos, showed in two CDI's: Mannheim (69.413%) and Achleiten (65.544%).

Diana Porsche, who is not Olympic-squad listed,  rode Dahoud to 70.761% (Amsterdam), 67.283% ('s Hertogenbosch), Hagen (69.891%). Lisa Wernitznig and Quintus scored 66.217% (Aachen) and 68.587% (Hagen) 

Not even A-squad listed, Astrid Neumayer and Zap Zap, scored 68.587% (Stradl Paura) and 67.348% (Pilisjaszfalu) this year. A-squad listed Renate Voglsang did only one CDI show on Furst Ferdinand this year, in January in Basel (71.587%).  

Horse Welfare

When asked how Austria will perform at the Olympics, Sissy Max-Theurer chose her words carefully.

Elisabeth Max-Theurer at the 2024 Palm Beach Derby
“The top 10 nations will make it to the Grand Prix Special – I know that our team has set itself this goal," said Sissy. "But I also know that it always depends on the form of the day, the conditions on site and many other factors. As President of the Austrian Equestrian Federation and Vice President of the Austrian Olympic Committee, the welfare of the horses is always my first priority – without our sports partners, we riders would be nothing. So I am always happy when Team Austria sets an example and stands for values ​​such as sporting fairness and horse welfare. Far from the results lists, it is this sporting behavior that counts most for me."

Photos  © CDI Achleiten  - Astrid Appels

Related Links
Scores: 2024 CDI Achleiten
Austrian Equestrian Federation Drafts Long List for 2024 Paris Olympics, Announces Squads for 2024
Florian Bacher Skipped Last Austrian Olympic Team Selection Trial in Achleiten