2004 Olympic New Zealand Eventing Roster

Aug 13, 2004 - 10:00 PM

Can New Zealand pull itself up from disappointing results–apart from Mark Todd’s individual bronze at Sydney–at both the last Olympics and the 2002 World Equestrian Games?

Well, they have a blend of experience that should help them be among the medal candidates again. Further, they’re still smarting over from the fact that traditional archrivals Australia have won the last three team gold medals. If there’s a weak spot in the team, it’s in dressage, although some of them have shown they can put a top test together. Todd, the two-time individual gold medalist, trains the team and has been working with them in the run-up to Athens.

The team veterans are Andrew Nicholson and Blyth Tait, the former heading for his fifth Olympiad (his first was 1984 in Los Angeles) and the latter for his fourth, hoping he can repeat his Atlanta gold medal. In fact, this will be Tait’s international swan song; he heads home, with Ready Teddy, immediately after the Games to become a Thoroughbred breeder and trainer. Ready Teddy, gold medalist at Atlanta, is now 16 and has only done enough to qualify and sharpen him for this event. A tremendous talent with a wonderful record, he sometimes reacts to the pressurized atmosphere in dressage, and that can blow what might be a winning performance. But he’s a superb cross-country horse and show jumps reliably. Everyone’s hoping that his good dressage when he won the Punchestown CCI*** (Ireland) in June is a sign that Tait has beaten the bogey and can keep the stress levels down at Athens. His back-up horse, Eze, is another New Zealand-bred by that prolific jumping sire Aberlou. Not as flamboyant as the brilliant “Teddy,” Eze is more your steady Eddie, winning the Olympic Games modified format CIC*** at Punchestown this year, while Teddy took the CCI*** there.

Nicholson’s pair are highly seasoned internationally: Lord Killinghurst came second at the Badminton CCI**** (England) this year and was third at the Burghley CCI**** (England) last fall. Fenicio was Nicholson’s ride at the 2002 WEG, where he finished ninth; this year he was second at Chatsworth CIC*** (England) and last year was second in the first FEI Eventing World Cup Final at Pau (France) and 11th at Badminton. Either is capable of a medal performance, and Nicholson is always at his best across country. If ever a man deserved an individual Olympic medal on his record, it’s Nicholson.

Dan Jocelyn and Silence have plenty of mileage, but having been tipped as Todd’s successor a couple of years ago, Jocelyn hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. Silence is a wiry little customer, by Silent Hunter, who came back from a nasty withers injury in 2000 to be third at Burghley the next year. But he just doesn’t seem to have hit that form since, although he finished 12th at the 2002 WEG. This combination is definitely lacking on the dressage front–the horse just doesn’t have the movement–but the jumping isn’t a problem, despite having retired at Badminton in 2002and 2003.

On the other hand, Heelan Tompkins’ tough little Glengarrick can do dressage, and he is a reliable jumper, even if at age 18 he’ll be one of the–if not the–oldest horse at the Games. Having been first reserve for Sydney, he’s been in England for the past two seasons, ridden by Tait when Tompkins was back home working as a radio breakfast host.

She’s always been convinced that Glengarrick should be considered for Athens with the new short format. Like his nickname, “Nugget,” he’s small, black and hard! He’s got plenty of mileage and a heart as big as himself. His jockey–on the team at the 2002 WEG on Crusada–will crawl over broken glass to get into the top placings

and prove what she’s always told the selectors. This is one tough combination.

Matthew Grayling, the only team member to do all his preparation in New Zealand, was touted as an aged Olympic “rookie” by television at home, but at 40, Grayling has solid experience on a number of horses, including victorious Trans Tasman teams. The Taranaki dairy farmer–he’s been known after winning an event, to thank his “300-plus sponsors,” his herd of dairy cows–should probably have been on a major team sooner than 2004. When he had the useful Eton, Grayling was waiting for, but not getting, a clear message from selectors as to whether they wanted him for that year’s senior team, and in the end the horse joined Eddie Stibbe’s stable instead of carrying the Kiwi colors. When you’re a young farmer building your family’s future–Grayling and wife Susan have four young children–you take the money. His ride at Athens, the chestnut Revo, is a multiple winner

of the national one-day championship and this season took New Zealand’s only World Cup qualifier, before narrowly losing the win at the national CCI*** to Australia’s Olivia Bunn. Revo had a great cross-country round at Badminton in 2002, but was lame on Sunday morning and missed the WEG later in the year. The horse has come back strongly from that, and a change of feeding and management regimes has apparently cleared up a previous tying-up problem.

Of the three named reserves, Caroline Powell, now domiciled in Scotland, has the most mileage and has been short-listed several times. Powell took over the ride on Softly Softly III from Harry Meade in 2003 and finished 14th this year at Badminton. The most exciting of the reserves is the stallion Internet, bred by Northland farmer and breeder Jocelyn Bayly from her B-grade show jumping mare, Dolly Gray, by the imported Oldenburg Inschallah II. He’s skipped through the grades from novice to four-star in two years. His jockey is riding teacher Kate Hewlett, 29, and they put together a second-placed performance at their first CCI***, at Puhinui (New Zealand) in December, before making Badminton look like a dawdle for 15th place. This pair may have deserved to have a crack at Athens, despite lack of experience. But maybe the selectors are looking ahead to the next WEG. Internet has 17 youngsters on the ground in New Zealand and has been busy leaving his mark in England while waiting for the selection decision. Jonelle Richards and Mazetto are a South Island combination, based in Christchurch, but they’ve been in England since last year. They, too, had a great run at Badminton this year for 17th place, earning their nomination as reserves.

Team Members

LORD KILLINGHURST: dk.b./br. g., Thoroughbred.

ANDREW NICHOLSON: age 43, based in U.K.

READY TEDDY: ch. g., 16, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, by Brilliant Invador–Double Summer.

BLYTH TAIT: age 43, based in U.K.

REVO: ch. g., 13, New Zealand-bred by Argonaut Style–Lady Comique, Crest Of The Wave.

MATTHEW GRAYLING: age 40, Taranaki, New Zealand.

SILENCE: bl. g., 14, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, by Silent Hunter–Mum’s The Word.

DAN JOCELYN: age 33, based in Ecchinswell, U.K.

GLENGARRICK: b. g., 18, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred.

HEELAN TOMPKINS: age 26, New Plymouth, New Zealand.


Social Bar

Join Mailing List

Shopping Cart

Like Box

Chronicle Headlines

Most Popular

Rider Spotlight

Charity Spotlight

Horse Spotlight

Like Box

Trainer Spotlight

Like Box