Eventing Team New Zealand captured another slice of history overnight when they notched their first-ever Nations’ Cup win in the CHIO Aachen . . . and it was just the second time the Germans have been beaten at the prestigious class on home ground.
It was a real team effort from Tim Price aboard Cekatinka, Clarke Johnstone on Balmoral Sensation, Sir Mark Todd with Kiltubrid Rhapsody and Blyth Tait on Havanna, with all four finishing.
Price worked his way steadily up the leaderboard through the three phases to finish in third place individually, with Johnstone fifth, Todd 13th and Tait 25th. Dan Jocelyn and Grovine de Reve, who were competing as individuals, were 27th.
The team had been second after the dressage, but slipped to third at the end of the showjumping, only to come storming home and take the victory thanks to superb cross country riding. The Kiwis finished on 112.9 penalty points, with France second on 130.5 and Sweden in third on 146.3.
Hosts Germany had to settle for fifth on 206.6 after Julia Krajewski was eliminated aboard Samourai du Thot, who had been sitting in second coming into the crucial final phase. However Krajewski continued to win the individual crown aboard Chipmunk FRH, who had led from the get-go.
ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom was rapt with the efforts of his riders, but also quick to credit the grooms, health support team and owners who all allowed it to happen.
“It is a terrific feeling (to win),” he said. “I hope we can use this momentum going into the World Equestrian Games (in September) although we know all the teams here are going to be hitting WEG at full stride and using this as a way to tweak and get even better. We still have a lot of work to do to confirm a status we are comfortable with.”
Thom said the New Zealand riders had all prioritised the team result, making sacrifices along the way. “It was great work. Jonelle (Price) helped with the cross country strategy and in the warm-up guiding riders out and that was a terrific help. We had a 100% completion rate for the team.”
Tim Price was also “super happy”.
“We executed a team-driven plan,” he said. “We just wanted to be consistent through all three phases. All of us Kiwis worked cohesively very, very well. I am super happy for this and excited going forward. It is a great Nations Cup victory for us Kiwis, especially here in Aachen.”
Johnstone was thrilled with the efforts of Balmoral Sensation, who has not long been in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Frank Rothenberger-designed showjumping had given the leaderboard a good shake-up, and followed by a challenging Rudiger Schwarz cross country course.
Thom says Schwarz is a designer who always surprises. “He gives us jumps that we think aren’t going to be an issue but they become the issue.”
Second-placed Chris Burton (AUS) and Quality Purdey were the only combination to come home clear and inside time. The New Zealand riders were all clear, but had time faults. There were four eliminations during the cross country, with one retirement.
Todd had said as he came off the course it was a difficult one to go fast on. “There might be one or two riders who stay in the time,” he said. “My horse jumped very well. It is a tricky course with difficult jumping efforts – it is twisty, up and down but the going is absolutely perfect. The cut grass makes the horses want to jump.”
It was a compliment shared by many, including Thom who described the going as “exceptional”.
The horse details:
Balmoral Sensation – owned by the Johnstone Family
Cekatinka – owned by Joanne Pullan
Havanna – owned by Jane Lovell-Smith, Katherine Corich and John Ormiston
Kiltubrid Rhapsody – owned by Niki Ryan and Dr Elizabeth Donald
Grovine de Reve – owned by Therese Miller, Jo Preston-Hunt, Philip Hunt and Dan Jocelyn
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ