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Major Australian Equestrian Events to be Rescheduled
Homebush, NSW, Australia

The National Board of the Equestrian Federation of Australia yesterday called upon its National Sport Committees to review the equestrian event calendar in the light of expected cancellations and postponements. The Board asked Committees and organizers to prioritize events that are essential for Australia's preparations in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.

The outbreak of Equine Influenza has had a severe impact on the whole of the industry, which is the main source of income for thousands of individuals and small businesses. The standstill and other restrictions have forced the cancellation of events and have stopped many other activities, including squad clinics for riders in contention for the Olympic Games.

President of the EFA Geoff Sinclair said: "This emergency could not have come at a worse time for us. Many Finals, Championships and other major events take place before the end of the year, and many of these are Olympic qualification and selection events. We must ensure that postponements fit into a competition calendar that optimises our preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games."

Events in this category include the Sydney International Three-Day Event, the Australian International Three-Day Event in Adelaide, which is the only 4-star event in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Australian Championships for Jumping in Canberra and for Dressage in Sydney.

The Australian Dressage Championships were to include the Regional Olympic Dressage Team Qualifier, to which New Zealand and Japan were sending teams of four riders and horses. The Japanese horses were to come from Europe, and the two best-performed nations would have qualified a team for the Olympic Games.

"This would have been the first time since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games that a team of horses from the Northern Hemisphere took part in Equestrian competition in Australia," said EFA CEO Franz Venhaus. "We are now having talks with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to find an alternative date or, if necessary, totally new arrangements for Olympic Dressage Team Qualification."

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