Equestrian Sports New Zealand have named their eventing line-up for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France in August.
New Zealand’s most capped eventers Andrew Nicholson and Sir Mark Todd spearhead a four-strong team that also includes Tim Price and Jock Paget. Each of the four can claim at least one four star win – the highest level of eventing competition.
Nicholson has been named on either Nereo (owned by Libby Sellar) or Avebury (owned by Rosemary and Mark Barlow), Todd on Leonidas (owned by Peter Cattrell and Di Brunsden), Price on Wesko (owned by Christina Knudsen, Peter Vela, Lucy Sangster and Kate Watchman), and Paget on Clifton Promise (owned by Frances Stead and Russell Hall).
Nicholson has ridden in all six World Equestrian Games, with his best individual result a bronze in Kentucky in 2010, when New Zealand also won a team bronze. He and Todd, who has ridden at four WEGs, were in the gold medal-winning team in 1990 in Stockholm. Todd was also in the team to take gold in 1998 in Rome.
It will be the second time Paget has ridden at WEG but his first in the team, while Price is on début following his recent four star win at the Luhmuhlen International Horse Trials. Confirmation of Paget’s selection hinges on the final ruling from the FEI Tribunal after his horse Clifton Promise tested positive for a banned substance last year. Earlier this month his provisional suspension was lifted, allowing him to return to competition.
Also named are individual riders Caroline Powell aboard Onwards and Upwards (owned by Cameron and Mary Crawford) and Lucy Jackson on Willy Do (owned by Mark, Gillian and Charlotte Greenlees).
Reserves are Jonelle Price (nee Richards) on Classic Moet (owned by Trisha Rickards), Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy (owned by Robert Taylor, Selwood.com and Price) and Megan Heath on her own St Daniel.
ESNZ high performance eventing coach Erik Duvander says the team combinations are all well proven, but he cautioned it was still all about putting it together on the day.
“Everyone has worked very hard to reach the high targets we have set as a team, and that includes the riders, the trainers, all of the support team and the selectors,” said Duvander, who is also the eventing chef d’equipe for WEG. “We have an incredible amount of energy in this team and we have super-talented horses.”
Riders are now in preparation mode until the games start in August. “Every rider has his or her own programme that has been tailored to their needs to make sure they peak for the games.”
The goal is team gold. “We are going out to win. If you are riding to win, you have to stick your neck out and that increases the risk, so we are looking forward to very exciting days in Normandy.”
ESNZ high performance director and WEG chef de mission Sarah Harris also has high hopes for the team. “This is an outstanding team and really shows the depth and calibre of our riders and the high performance programme.”
One of the main aims of the programme since the London Olympics has been to dominate at four star level, and the Kiwis have done just that. “Our riders should be really proud of what they have achieved since London.”
New Zealand has already named vaulting and endurance teams for WEG, with the possibility of para-equestrian and showjumping representatives as well.
Andrew Nicholson – Nereo (owned by Libby Sellar) or Avebury (owned by Rosemary and Mark Barlow);
Sir Mark Todd – Leonidas (owned by Peter Cattrell and Di Brunsden)
Tim Price – Wesko (owned by Christina Knudsen, Peter Vela, Lucy Sangster and Kate Watchman)
Jock Paget* – Clifton Promise (owned by Frances Stead and Russell Hall)
*subject to eligibility
Caroline Powell – Onwards and Upwards (owned by Cameron and Mary Crawford)
Lucy Jackson – Willy Do (owned by Mark, Gillian and Charlotte Greenlees)
Jonelle Price – Classic Moet (owned by Trisha Rickards)
Tim Price – Ringwood Sky Boy (owned by Robert Taylor, Selwood.com and Price)
Megan Heath – St Daniel.