Hindsight is a wonderful thing, says eventer Blyth Tait. He’s worn the silver fern eight times now between the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games and knows only too well all that is involved in the sport of eventing.
The 2018 WEG edition didn’t play out as he had hoped. After notching a 29.7 penalty point dressage effort which saw him in 28thin the 83-strong field, he had a premature finish to his champs during the cross country.
“On the day I was gutted,” he said, “but in hindsight these things happen, especially when you are first to go for the team. Unfortunately I became the cannon fodder. If I had been second to go in the team, there is no way I would have presented my horse to the waterfall.”
Two early combinations had baulked at it and two more did the same right after Blyth. “They were just frightened,” said the 57-year-old. I was struggling with Dassett Courage. He was overawed by the crowd and all the razzmatazz so he wasn’t as focused as I wanted him to be. Really, the waterfall just finished him off. Everyone avoided it (the waterfall) from there so it really changed the face of the competition.”
Fourteen-year-old Dassett Courage had been clear in cross country all year, but the fright he got there was too much, according to Blyth. “I was very disappointed with him on the day but in reflection there was an excuse.”
He was, however, rapt with the Irish sport horse’s dressage. “He really delivered at dressage. He was great and is very consistent. We made no real errors and if we had gone on the second day we may have been more generously marked, but it was a fair mark for the first morning.”
Dassett Courage is by Courage II, out of a Cruising mare and is owned by Thomas Barr, Sally Grant and Blyth.
He would now “just let the dust settle” but has his sights set on returning to New Zealand.
Blyth, who has won double gold twice at WEG and has a full set of Olympic medals, is shortly off to an FEI seminar on cross country designing and plans to get more into that side of the sport. “That way I am still involved and it is a way to do things into my sixties.”
He has a raft of clinics scheduled in New Zealand in November and plans to spend the summer there. Leo Distinction has been sold so he has just Havanna and Dassett Courage in his stable.
“We’ll just see how things go and then make final plans.”
By Diana Dobson, NZ team media liaison
Photos by Libby Law Photography