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OLYMPICS: Fredericks flying into Olympic view
5:00pm Friday 22nd June 2012 in Sport
LUCINDA Fredericks put herself in position to join husband Clayton on the Australian Olympic eventing team, after a fine performance at the Luhmuhlen CCI**** event in Germany at the weekend.
The Little Cheverell-based couple helped Australia take silver in the Olympic three-day event four years ago and both were included on Australia’s five-rider nominated list for London announced on Wednesday.
Since her Beijing ride and four-star partner Headley Britannia retired this year, British-born Fredericks’ hopes had been pinned on the largely-unproven Flying Finish.
The 10-year-old, who was discovered working in a German riding school and only took up eventing two years ago, was a real outsider just a few weeks ago.
But that changed as he galloped into second place and the Australian selectors’ radar at Luhmuhlen.
The pair led the three-day event after the opening dressage, just over a mark ahead of the all-conquering German rider Michael Jung, current world and European champion and a favourite for the Olympic individual title.
Facing his first-ever four-star cross-country course, Flying Finish came home clear with just time penalties that left him fourth.
The final show jumping phase saw now-leader Jung hold onto the top spot, but second and third placed riders Andrew Hoy – based at Badbury near Swindon and heading for his seventh Olympics after also being on the Australian nominated list – and Britain’s Oliver Townend had three fences down apiece.
Flying Finish jumped another great clear, with just two time penalties, to grab second place.
The Australian team is due to be ratified tomorrow and Fredericks said: “It would be a fairytale if Clayton and I were both to go to the Olympics again after 2008.
“Luhmuhlen was fantastic and he (Flying Finish) is the first gelding I’ve ridden at four star level for 10 years rather than mares and finished happy, sound and I hope he realises just how special he is.”
Meanwhile, Clayton Fredericks has Brookleigh, Macarthur, Pigrela Des Cabanes and Walterstown Don (in the three-star) for next week’s Barbury International Horse Trials, which estate owner Nigel Bunter believes will prove an exciting spectacle for the public and a test for the top-class field.
Britain’s five selected Olympic rider/horse combinations are set to compete at the trials – their last major outing before London.
Top international riders from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United States are also likely to feature for the final time before the Games.
Bunter said: “We’ve been very sensitive to the fact that it’s Olympic year, but the course will still be a test.
“We’ve brought the start and finish nearer to the main arena, as well as the famous Land Rover Bridge fence from the Burghley trials.
“We wanted to give the finish a bit more of a spectacle.’’