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Kiwis out in force at Burghley Horse Trials

September 1, 2011

In-form New Zealand eventers will give their British counterparts a run for their money at this weekend's prestigious Burghley International Horse Trials.

© Mike Bain
Leading the charge of 13 Kiwi combinations is the in-form World Championships bronze medalist Andrew Nicholson, who has enjoyed a remarkable winning run in recent weeks.

Burghley has become an event he loves, despite a rather scratchy start that saw him fall off the first three times he competed there. Since then though, he's won this prestigious title twice and finished second more times than he cares to count.

Defending champion Caroline Powell and the evergreen Lenamore are also serious contenders to retain the crown - along with the NZ$100,000 prize purse for the winner. Rising star Jonathan Paget, who finished seventh in his first world champs in 2010, rounds out the top Kiwi trio, all of whom are starting two horses.

Nicholson recently won the British Open Championship, finishing first on Nereo and second on Avebury - the two horses he'll start at Burghley.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand eventing high performance leader Erik Duvander says any of the three could win, with another raft of Kiwis capable of top 10 finishes.

The newly-crowned eventing world cup series winner Clarke Johnstone, double Olympic gold medallist and former Burghley winner Mark Todd, who is currently sitting in third spot on the classics leaderboard, Jonelle Richards (Flintstar) and Neil Spratt (Upleadon), and Dan Jocelyn on (Special Advocate) all have strong hopes.

Cross-country course designer Captain Mark Phillips.
© Mike Bain

Out to catch the eye of selectors will be the come-back campaigner Blyth Tait who needs to earn himself a spot on the Olympic long list.

Duvander said he couldn't be happier with the preparation of his riders for one of the top events on the global eventing calendar and the next round of the rich HSBC FEI Classics Series, which features the top six four-star events of the season (Badminton (won by Mark Todd), Kentucky (USA), Luhmuhlen (GER), Burghley, Pau (FRA) and Adelaide (AUS)).

"To be getting such results this early in our preparation for the Olympics shows we are on track," Duvander said. "Our (high performance) squad riders are looking amazing. I think none have ridden better and it's an exciting place to be as we head to Burghley."

He says the promised retro cross-country track designed by Captain Mark Phillips may prove a challenge for some of the more inexperienced riders in the field, but he's not expecting any difficulties for the majority of the Kiwis in the start list.

"The event, as always, has attracted a big field with many top combinations in there."

Captain Mark Phillips on the cross-country:

In-form Kiwis

Andrew Nicholson

Mark Todd and Major Milestone. © Mike Bain
Caroline Powell
Blyth Tait
Mark Todd Jonathan Paget Clarke Johnstone



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