New Zealand’s eventing team for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games is stacked with both Olympic and WEG experience.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand has announced Sir Mark Todd, Tim and Jonelle Price, Blyth Tait and Dan Jocelyn as the eventing representatives at the fast-approaching Games which are being held in the United States from September 11-23. At the Games New Zealand will compete a team of four – with three scores to count – and an individual combination. Today’s announcement is of the five, along with nine non-travelling reserves.
Todd has been named aboard McClaren, his 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding who has been with him since mid-2017. He’s highly rated by 62-year-old Todd, a seven-time Olympian and one who has competed at five WEGs. His medal haul from the pinnacle events is impressive, with two WEG team golds, team bronze and individual silver alongside six Olympic medals including back-to-back individual golds with the mighty Charisma. Both he and Tait were on the team to win gold at the inaugural WEG in Stockholm in 1990.
“I am delighted to be on another WEG team,” says Todd, “and excited to be part of this great bunch of people. Everything crossed now for the next four weeks to get there safely and in top form.”
Todd also has two horses as reserves in his 2016 Rio Olympic Games horse Leonidas II and Kiltubrid Rhapsody, on whom he was sixth at Badminton this year.
Tim and Jonelle Price are very much the golden couple of world eventing at the moment, with world rankings of four and five respectively. Back-to-back four star winner Jonelle has been named aboard the speedy 15-year-old black mare Classic Moet on whom she won Badminton this year. Thirty-seven-year-old Jonelle and Classic Moet were the best of the Kiwis at the 2014 WEG, with their fourth place individual finish. Jonelle was a member of the bronze medal-winning New Zealand team at the London Olympic Games and also in the team at Rio.
“Once again it is an honour to be picked alongside some of the greats of our sport,” says Jonelle Price. “Classic Moet has had a super season thus far and we’ll be looking to continue that. Being the only female, I’ll need to keep the boys in line – but I am feeling up to the challenge!”
Tim Price has been named on 11-year-old Cekatinka who was third at CHIO Aachen and has been a very consistent horse for him in recent years. Tim has represented New Zealand at both Olympic and WEG level, and made the podium at four star events in Kentucky, Luhmuhlen, Burghley and Pau.
“It is incredibly exciting to be able to go and represent New Zealand again,” says Price. “Both Joanne Pullan – Cekatinka’s owner – and I are delighted. I am very confident in this team and what sorts of results we might be able to deliver. I am excited to be included and looking forward to Tryon.”
The 39-year-old’s reserves are Ascona M and his Rio Olympic horse Ringwood Sky Boy.
Fifty-seven-year-old Tait has represented New Zealand at four Olympic Games, where he has won a full set of medals, and three WEGs where his medal haul includes two individual and team golds. He has been named aboard the 14-year-old Irish sport horse Dassett Courage, with his reserve horse Havanna. Tait is over the moon.“I am absolutely delighted,” he said. “It has been a long time. I am very honoured to be part of such a strong team and plan to take the opportunity and give it my all.”
Todd, Tait and Tim Price were on the team to win gold at the prestigious CHIO Aachen recently.
Jocelyn has been named aboard Grovine de Reve, a 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding who has been with him since mid-2017. Jocelyn has also ridden for New Zealand at both Olympic and WEG level. Dassett Cool Touch and Blackthorn Cruise have been named as reserve horses for the 47-year-old.
“It’s been 14 years since I last represented the country at a major championship so I am just so pleased to be on the team,” said Jocelyn. “I have been working towards this for a long time. We have had some disappointments along the way, but I now have some great horsepower and they are all going very well. It is really exciting.”
Also named as reserves for the Kiwis are London Olympian Caroline Powell aboard Up Up and Away and young gun Jesse Campbell on Cleveland.
Eventing chef d’equipe Graeme Thom is excited but encouraging all to be grounded.
“We are all very excited about WEG and our chances to perform well,” he says. “That said, we encourage ourselves to pursue a path of humility because that is where success is most often borne. This extraordinary group of athletes, wonderful owners and support team exemplify this posture and we will keep our heads down and minds focused until the last moment of competition.”
This is the third WEG announcement from ESNZ. Endurance representatives are Jenny Champion (Wairarapa) and Philip Graham (Canterbury) while dressage riders Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) and John Thompson (Hamilton) are already in the United States preparing for the Games.
2018 WEG Eventing Team:
Sir Mark Todd
David and Katherine Thomson
Trisha Rickards and Jonelle Price
Thomas Barr, Sally Grant and Blyth Tait
Grovine de Reve
Therese Miller, Jo Preston-Hunt, Philip Hunt & Dan Jocelyn
Sir Mark Todd
Diane Brunsden, Peter Cattell and Sir Mark Todd
Niki Ryan and Dr Elizabeth Donald
Jane Lovell-Smith, Katherine Corich and John Ormiston
Suzanne Houchin, Lucy and Ben Sangster and Sir Peter Vela
Ringwood Sky Boy
Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor and Tim Price
Up Up and Away
Cameron and Mary Crawford and Powell
Dassett Cool Touch
Therese Miller and Dan Jocelyn
Therese Miller and Panda Christie
Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ