There’s plenty of praise for the New Zealand Nations’ Cup team who placed fourth overnight at the Boekelo Horse Trials in The Netherlands.
A substitution before the cross country saw the young guns – Samantha Lissington aboard Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ, Jesse Campbell on Cleveland and James Avery with One of a Kind – slip to the back of the 12-strong pack. Dan Jocelyn and Lissyegan Rory stepped in to replace Samantha adding a 20 penalty points to the team tally. The trio came out and added just 9.6 penalties to the team score to move up to seventh followed by a brilliant showjumping day for a final placing of fourth.
ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom has no doubt his riders will all be carrying the Kiwi flag again in the future. “It could not have been a more solid and professional finish,” said Graeme. “After an average first phase we were hit with a substitution that placed us last in a strong field of 12 teams. Superb cross country rounds and the best showjumping of any nation placed us fourth in the end.”
The event ran the new Olympic format which sees each team with just three combinations and no drop score which certainly reinforced for him that strength, consistency and reliability in all phases is critical. “The (cross country) course turned in some surprises and the new Olympic format revealed just how dramatic a change to our sport it will have. Our costly substitution and then a few cross country errors by other nations changed the leader board. It is hard to imagine spectators being able to follow the new scoring system when even the athletes and chefs d’equipe required interpretations from the ground jury.”
James and One of a Kind were the best of the Kiwis, finishing in 13th spot on their dressage score of 33.3 penalty points and he was rapt. “It was not quite the score I wanted in the dressage,” he says. “He is definitely capable of a little lower but he is coming on well and after a good winter of dressage he should be looking pretty cool next year. On the jumping side of things, he is pretty awesome I had an awesome ride cross country and I think he is a very exciting horse for the future. He is a nice horse to jump on the last day as well.”
The combination was one of just 11 to be clear and inside time in the showjumping. “He has little springs,” says James. “He is like a little cop pony who just keeps on jumping. I am really excited about him. I really enjoyed Boekelo – it was all round a great event and a good team result. It was a shame we had to sub a rider in because that cost us the silver.”
Jesse was over the moon with the efforts of Cleveland who added just 3.6 time in the cross country and .8 time in the showjumping to finish on 38.8 penalty points in 26th place. “The only mistake we really made was pushing quite hard in the dressage,” says Jesse. “We were going for some big numbers and just slightly let it boil over a fraction which was disappointing but we know we can take it down a gear and he will be absolutely fine.”
The team had pulled together and fought hard after making a plan with the help of Jonelle Price who was at the event as a mentor and trainer. “We really stuck to our guns and just kept fighting for it” said Jesse. “It was really cool for it to come together and for us to only miss out on silver by a technicality which was disappointing. I think this is where this Olympic format is very difficult. It is not to our sport’s benefit at all but it is in place now for next year and we just have to get on with it. The jumping phases are absolutely key, being able to operate under pressure and get the job done. It will be very interesting viewing next year . . . you are going to have to have some very strong reliability with the horses that we take.”
He was very proud of the team. “It showed what a fantastic unit we are and how tight knit the group is that we can still, in the face of adversity and what didn’t look like a good situation on Friday, battle through and come out really well on the last day. It was very special.”
And he was super proud of Cleveland and his performance. “He was fantastic and is starting to really show his true colours and what a championship horse he can be for the future.”
Dan Jocelyn was also over the moon with his youngster Lissyegan Rory. “I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said. “
It was pleasing to be part of the team with him. I was sad for Sam who I replaced, but it was a good job done by all and a really good event. I am extremely pleased with Lissyegan Rory who is so young at just eight and to show his class at that level was a huge achievement. It was probably unexpected at the beginning of the season so we couldn’t be happier with how the horse has progressed. He has a big future ahead.”
Graeme also said the whole team were sorry for Samantha and Sooty who did not get to finish what they so strongly contributed and he tipped his hat to Bruce Haskell who rode as an individual to finish on a score of 82.2 aboard Amiro Sky, but was so much a part of the New Zealand team environment.
Germany held on to take the FEI Nations’ Cup honours on a score of 94.1 penalty points. The team look unassailable from the get-go and while they had a slight speed wobble in the showjumping, they were still 29.4 ahead of the second placed Australia with Japan in third. New Zealand finished on 130 penalty points.
Individually, Laura Collett (GBR) and London 52 took advantage of Sandra Auffarth’s (GER) rail aboard Let’s Dance 73 to take the win on their 26 penalty point dressage score with Chris Burton (AUS) and Clever Louis second on 26 and Michael Jung (GER) aboard Creevagh Cooley third on 28.1.
THE HORSE DETAILS:
Cleveland – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
One of a Kind – owned by Hazel Livesey
Lissyegan Rory – owned by Debbie Cunningham and Dan Jocelyn
Amiro Sky – owned by Judy, Tom and Bruce Haskell
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ