Team Ukraine Rio-Bound After Horses Undergo Sweeping Ownership Change

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ne of the Rio-bound Ukraine horses in question, Fine Fleur du Marais, competed by Cassio Rivetti on July 2nd, 2016 in Paris.
One of the Rio-bound Ukraine horses in question, Fine Fleur du Marais, competed by Cassio Rivetti on July 2nd, 2016 in Paris.

In a clear move to protect the Ukrainian show jumping team’s Olympic plan, ownership records of the five best Ukrainian horses on the Olympic nominated entries list have been changed in the FEI database.

Last week, the fate of Team Ukraine’s show jumping team was called into question when the Ukrainian government called for the prosecution and arrest of de-facto team owner and rider Oleksandr Onyshchenko. The former member of Ukraine’s parliament is accused of embezzling over $64 million dollars in a gas fraud scheme. He has yet to turn himself in to Ukrainian authorities.

As recently as last week, Onyshchenko was listed in the FEI database as owner of all Team Ukraine show jumpers short listed on the Final Nominated Entries for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While the Minister of Youth and Sports in Ukraine made it clear that Onyshchenko himself would be prevented from representing Ukraine as a rider at the Games, questions were raised about the Onyshchenko-owned horses being seen as assets and possibly frozen from movement or competition by the Ukrainian government. All five horses are ridden and were qualified for the Olympics by Team Ukraine riders Cassio Rivetti, René Tebbel, Ulrich Kirchoff, and Ferenc Szentirmai,

But now it seems that the wrinkle has been smoothed away. FEI rules state that the owner or co-owner of a horse competing at an Olympic Games must share nationality of the nation the horse is competing for. While rules prevent horse nationality from being changed after the January 16th cut-off date, horse ownership can be changed prior to July 18th.

All 13 short-listed Olympic horses for the Ukraine that were last week listed with Onyshchenko as owner are now on record with their riders and Paul Schockemöhle as co-owners, or with Schockemöhle as owner. Chadino, who was previously co-owned by Onyshchenko and Busson Jasmine, is now co-owned by his rider and Jasmine.

This change of ownership follows the news that Schockemöhle, a German horse dealer and fixture in equestrian sport, had last week purchased 44 of Onyshchenko’s horses. Until now it was unknown which horses those were. While this shortens Ukraine’s nominated entries list considerably, it protects the top group of horses that were the most likely choices for Rio.

This effectively extinguishes the distant hope that first reserve Team Ireland would gain a last minute entry to Rio if the Ukraine were unable to send its team.

Team Ukraine Rio Show Jumping Shortlist, by horse:
Prince De La Mare 
Rider:  Ulrich Kirchhoff
Owner: Ulrich Kirchhoff & Paul Schockemöhle Pferdehaltung GmbH

Fine Fleur du Marais
Rider: Cassio Rivetti
Owner: Cassio Rivetti & Paul Schockemöhle Pferdehaltung GmbH

Rider: René Tebbel
Owner: René Tebbel & Paul Schockemöhle Pferdehaltung GmbH

Cooper 75
Rider: René Tebbel
Owner: Renée Tebbel & Paul Schockemöhle Pferdehaltung GmbH

Rider: Ferenc Szentirmai
Owner: Ferenc Szentirmai & Busson Jasmine