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Dogged by bad luck, New Zealand eventers drop out of Olympic team medals

Clarke Johnstone - could he get an individual medal?Clarke Johnstone - could he get an individual medal?On Thursday (August 11) Sarah Dalziell-Clout, New Zealand's High Performance Director, sent Marlborough. News this summary of their eventing competition: "I think it's fair to say it's been a roller-coaster of a week for the team with Jock's Clifton Lush injuring himself, Tim's unfortunate fall, the teams' high after a dramatic day of cross country where the renowned Kiwi cross country riding skills came to the fore - followed by the dramatic ups and downs of our show-jumping day."

"Obviously the team is really disappointed and feeling quite flat with our final results, but also realistic that such is our sport  - the highs and lows come around thick and fast and with just a little luck on our side we could have been coming away with gold."

"Last night the horses flew out and are enroute home to their UK bases - the riders will follow suit over the next few days."

It was a very close run thing - as the New Zealand Equestrian tweet said "So so close". 

The New Zealand team - four of the five who travelled to Rio are based around Marlborough - could only make it to fourth place after the show jumping - the final of the three disciplines.

As the show jumping drew to a close, Sir Mark Todd could have had one rail down and the New Zealand team would have won gold.  Todd - competing in his seventh Olympics - and Leonidas II had four rails down.  Todd said afterwards that his horse was simply not relaxed.

In her show jumping round, Jonelle Price had two rails down with Faerie Dianimo and New Zealand based Clarke Johnstone with Balmoral Sensation went sensationally clear.  

The team had been dogged by bad luck.  Jock Paget's horse was hurt in a freak stable accident and his replacement Tim Price and his horse Ringwood Skyboy slipped and fell during the cross country and were eliminated.

As a New Zealand reporter put it: "That's the nature of our sport.  It's ruthless.  It requires a bit of luck on top of all that skill."

The gold medal went to France after Astier Nicolas - who is based near Calne - rode a brilliant clear round. Germany took the silver and Australia the bronze - just 3.5 penalty points ahead of New Zealand.  Great Britain were fifth.

At the end of the first round of the shopwjumping - which settles the team medals - Clarke Johnstone was still in sight of an individual medal.  It all depended on the second round.

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