Sophie Scott and Waitangi Skynet are about to be challenged by a European-style 1.6m course at Takapoto Estate to give selectors a chance to benchmark them against New Zealand’s offshore jumpers chasing the individual berth at the Paris Olympic Games.

ESNZ jumping high performance manager Oliver Edgecombe says it is challenging for Sophie to show current form given the time of year, but she’s had a great season. “She wants to put her hand up (for the Games) and we want to provide her with that opportunity,” he says.

ESNZ high performance general manager Jock Paget is rapt to see the Palmerston North rider have the chance to prove herself.  “It is good that we have a programme that is agile enough to create these types of pathways and opportunities,” says Jock. “Hats off to Oliver and the team for creating this opportunity. We are fortunate to have access to a facility like Takapoto to provide this at an international standard, so a big thank you to the Plaw family for their continued support in so many ways of equestrian sport in New Zealand.”

Oliver says the benchmarking opportunity is about bridging the gap for what riders have access to in New Zealand while letting them prepare properly and show form. The 1.6m course will replicate a standard that would be expected in Paris with Sophie and Skynet jumping two rounds. The course will be designed by an international and built by retired FEI Level 3 course designer Gerrit Beker.

“It will only be Sophie jumping the course so it is not the same as a competition but the nature is that it is the rider up against the course,” says Oliver. “In some ways that makes it harder. Being in a weird training exhibition environment can be very challenging. We don’t expect the day to answer every question but it will give information that will be looked at by selectors. There is a lot to be taken into consideration before we get to that selection process.”

ESNZ did something similar pre the Tokyo Olympic Games using a Frank Rothenberger-designed course. ESNZ squad riders have been invited to walk the course at the June 6 event being held at 10.30am at Takapoto Estate in Maungatautari, near Cambridge.

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison