New Zealand Equestrian Sport’s High Performance leader Sarah Harris says it’s a “real shame” that the country won’t have a dressage rider at the upcoming FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in France, but the discipline’s focus is now on the Rio 2016 Olympics and beyond.
Sole “A” squad rider Vanessa Way has retired her mount, KH Arvan, after the horse failed to bounce back as well as expected following an operation.
But Harris said the results from the young combinations at the recent Horse of the Year showed the sport had an exciting future.
New Zealand will have slim representation in Para-equestrian, with Rachel Stock yet to meet requirements, and 2012 Paralympic rider Anthea Gunner heading to Germany next week with the aim of meeting requirements. Gunner, who trains with Australia’s Hayley Beresford, has a horse in Germany.
And while New Zealand’s WEG showjumping contenders were yet to be announced, four riders had met the Minimum Eligibility Requirements set by Equestrian Sports New Zealand. US-based rider Sharn Wordley has been putting up some good results in recent weeks on his new mount, Derly Chin De Muze, who was formerly ridden by Canada’s Eric Lamaze; and NZ -based riders Samantha McIntosh, Luke Dee and Katie McVean had all met the requirements and impressed at the recent Horse of the Year show. McVean, who won the Horse of the Year title, will sit out WEG this year as she is expecting a baby.
New Zealand will send a team of five endurance riders, with three combinations already having met selection criteria. “There are three more on the ‘B’ squad with one more result to achieve, at the National Championships over Easter,” Harris said.
A final decision on the five-strong endurance team would be made at the end of May. Harris said endurance was proving to be a strong discipline. “We’ve set a hard criteria, but the riders keep stepping up, which is very exciting.”
After controversy leading up WEG 2010 about the selection of endurance grooms, Harris said this time around that the squad riders had their regular support crews through the season, and ESNZ was “absolutely happy to support that” at WEG.
She stressed that the support teams would be kept “tight”, as that had been found to be most efficient for management and for team culture, which had been evidenced in eventing, which was the most established of New Zealand’s High Performance disciplines.
Six eventers would comprise the Kiwi squad to Normandy, with four team members and two individuals. Two New Zealand based riders are right up in the mix, following very good results at HoY. Clarke Johnstone, who has recently returned from Britain and has a new team of horses, and Joe Waldron, a formerly Australian based Kiwi, are the two local hopes. Both are looking to go to Kihikihi and the Sydney, after which a plan would be made.
Lumühlen in Germany is also on the cards for Waldron.
The two Kiwi-based riders are joined by British based team “regulars”, including Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Caroline Powell, Jonathan Paget, and Jonelle Richards. Also in contention is Lizzie Brown, Tim Price, Megan Heath, and Lucy Jackson.
Overall, Harris said, “it’s going to be a great Games.”