New Zealand eventers head to the Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Germany this week in their last big shake-down before next month’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo head the team, which also includes Tim Price on Wesko, Jonelle Price on Faerie Dianimo, and Lucy Jackson on Willy Do will compete as a team, with Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy competing as individuals.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance coach Erik Duvander says Aachen is an important part of the team’s build-up for world champs.
“Aachen is the closest event we get to a championship atmosphere with the big stadium, the crowds and the whole environment,” Duvander said. “It is great for riders and horses who need a bit of experience in that atmosphere.”
Also at the event but not riding will be WEG riders Jock Paget and Caroline Powell. The only one missing is Mark Todd, who is unable to attend.
“It’s good to have everyone together and we can go through the routines we will use at the worlds. It’s disappointing not to have Mark there, but no one has more team experience than him, so I am not concerned he will be missing.”
While the team always competes to win, Duvander says the big goal for the year is next month’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
“This is a very strong team, featuring some of our best riders and horses.” Each will ride as an individual as well as in the team.
The overall winner of all disciplines in the main classes competing at Aachen get a green jacket and a plaque with their name at the stadium.
Fourteen-year-old Nereo won the event in 2010, and followed that with a bronze individual medal at the 2010 world champs and a fourth place at the London Olympics.
“Andrew rode Nereo at Aachen before both the World Champs at Kentucky (in 2010) and again before the London Olympics (2012),” says Duvander. “He went on to have a fantastic outcome at both championship events, so it has been a proven successful lead-in and preparation for him before.”
None of the other horses have competed at Aachen before.
“Everyone who goes to Aachen always leaves very inspired. It is an opportunity to see the best showjumpers and dressage riders in the world. We always spend a lot of time studying what they are doing in their warm-up and training,” Duvander said. “There is a massive amount of learning to be done out there always.”
The eventing gets under way on Friday followed by the jumping that evening and the cross country the following day.