Changes to New Zealand Eventing’s performance programme look set to ensure the nation stays in its premium spot of having top-class riders winning on the world stage for some time to come.
The appointment of Penny Castle to the newly-created role of performance director is set to take the programme to the next level.
In announcing how the performance programme is implemented here in New Zealand, ESNZ’s high performance director Sarah Harris is looking to the future. ‘The changes have been made to further focus developing both New Zealand’s next level of riders with potential for medal-winning performances, as well as developing world-class New Zealand eventing coaches. Penny Castle is an outstanding coach, as recognised by her recent acceptance into High Performance Sport New Zealand’s Accelerated Coaching Programme, which is a real honour.’
Castle, an accomplished horsewoman in her own right, has over 25 years coaching experience. She is widely-respected as a coach, especially for her ability to utilise the framework the High Performance funding brings, such as mentoring, Individual Performance Plans and ensuring riders have appropriate individually-tailored support. Castle, from Manawatu, has achieved many successes competing in eventing but more recently in dressage.
Members of the High Performance Squad are all based in the United Kingdom in order to compete at the highest levels in the sport. These are combinations with the ability to finish in the top five at this year’s World Equestrian Games and/or 2016 Olympic Games. The next level is the High Performance Accelerated Programme which is for those riders or rider and horse combinations where the selectors want to take a longer term approach to nurturing them for the future.
The riders on the Talent Development Squad, the next level, are seen by selectors as having the ability and motivation, with the right help, to move into the High Performance Squad at some stage in the future. They have access to the HPSNZ programme, for both funding and specialty coaching. Castle will be focusing a lot of her attention on the members of this squad. The riders are Samantha Felton (Waikato), Amanda Pottinger (Wairarapa), Virginia Thompson (Waitemata), Sarah Young (Waikato), Tayla Mason (Wellington) and Jessica Woods (Waikato).
There is also the Youth Talent Development Squad for riders under-23 who have been identified as having potential, with the right training and development, so that one day they could make an impact on the High Performance squads. This squad is Charlotte Grayling (Taranaki), Bonnie Farrant (Canterbury), Ellie Braddock (Canterbury), Alex Chambers-Steward (Auckland), Georgia Dufty (Bay of Plenty) and Francesca Silver (Wairarapa). One of the coaches who will be working with this squad in addition to Castle is Clarke Johnstone, who has recently returned to New Zealand after some years competing from his UK base. Johnstone’s own coaching career is supported through the Prime Minister’s Scholarship run by HPSNZ. He is also part of the High Performance Accelerator Squad.