By Agata Grosicka
Photography: Kasia Lichowska, M&R Photo
For the first time in 16 years, the Polish eventing team has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and is definitely going to Japan. The Olympic qualifying competition took place last month in a very picturesque Baborowko Horse Riding Center just outside Poznan in the western part of Poland. There were three Central European teams competing for one OG seat – Poland, Belarus, and Russia so a clear Polish win prompted a great celebration.
Interestingly, of all the horses ridden by the Polish athletes, only one was bred outside Poland. The rest of these outstanding eventing horses are Polish bred which well illustrates that when it comes to eventing horses, Polish breeding is blooming!
The team that made history included Joanna Pawlak riding Fantastic Frieda, Pawel Spisak with Banderas, Pawel Warszawski and Aristo A-Z, and Mariusz Kleniuk ridiing the mare Winona who, unfortunately, did not complete the cross-country phase. Janek Kaminski and Jard who were preselected for the team, only competed individually and finished third in the four-star qualifier, immediately following Pawel Spisak and Michael Jung (GER). One year ahead of Tokyo 2020, and Marcin Konarski, the Polish national eventing coach, will will have more than a few riders from which to select his team.
I talked to the members of the winning team and asked them about the horses. Ladies first: Joanna Pawlak and her Fantastic Frieda (For Edition - Pirola x Pinkus), the only foreign-bred horse in the game. It is worth mentioning that Pawlak will be the first ever Polish female eventing rider to compete for her country in Poland’s equestrian Olympic history. Speaking about her famtastic Hanoverian mare, she said: “I am her first rider. I got her when she was only five and she was always meant to be my Olympic hope. From the very beginning she showed both a very strong character and a huge talent. Frieda is pure Hannoverian coming from an exquisite jumping bloodline via her sire and dam’s side. Her mother’s full sister, by Contendro I, gave birth to Mark Todd’s Campino, so she definitely has eventing genes in her blood. Frieda is also a real fighter and sometimes finds it difficult to be fully obedient which may cause some tension in the dressage test. Since wintertime we’ve been mostly working on dressage and here in Baborowko we have scored our personal best.”..
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