Olympic eventing hopeful Monica Spencer is giving it her all in an effort to make the New Zealand Olympic Games team for Paris.
Monica flew out yesterday to the United States with husband Andrew and two-year-old son Gus on a fun family adventure with a real high performance twist. They’ve rented out their property in Taupo and they’ll be followed shortly by three more horses. Her top horse Artist is already in Florida waiting for her and will soon be joined by Marvel (owned by breeder Sandra and Dave Ray and Monica and Andrew), Aviator (owned by Monica and Andrew) and Valkyrie (owned by Ken Quigley and Monica and Andrew). The three will join fellow eventer Matthew Grayling’s Trudeau and showjumpers Maurice Beatson and Brooke Edgecombe’s horses on the February 12 flight.
“Some may think I am mad taking three 2* horses up there with me but I am covering my bases. I think all of these horses have Olympic potential,” says Monica. “This is the big move – sink or swim!” Her sights are set on the Kentucky 5* where she is hopeful a podium finish will catch the selectors’ eyes for that all-important Paris team.
The plan is to stay there through to the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028. “Artist will only be 16 then too, so may be a contender as well.” Monica moved to the US with her thoroughbred Artist last year. They were based in Pennsylvania at Somehowe Yard, owned by the Howe family and run by Erika Nessler but this time will head south to Ocala first.
“We have our ally Edward Ewbank there and we will be at the same barn as him. He wintered Artist with him in Virginia and headed to Ocala at the end of December. Edward has been hacking him for me and getting him slowly up to fitness.”
The Kentucky 5* is just 12 weeks away, so much of her focus is on Artist and the event. The combination were seventh in the 5* at Maryland last year and fourth in a CCI4*-S warm-up event in Pennsylvania.
She won’t be rushing things with her youngsters. Aviator will move up to 3* pretty soon and the two six-year-olds will stay at 2* for a bit. “They are still young so I will take my time with them,” said Monica.
The family has found the US hugely welcoming. “There’s a real hype around eventing there and they have two 5* now so that’s cool. The climate suits me and I see it as a good place to build a business and prepare for pinnacle events. It is certainly close enough to Europe with US riders having made it pretty easy to shoot over and do the big ones. There is a lot of opportunity in the US and that excites me.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ