Eventing: Marlborough locals bring home the Boekelo bacon
This year’s International Equestrian Federation Eventing Nations Cup in the Netherlands, the 2019 series final, was particularly hotly contested, with many combinations chasing Olympic qualification and a team ticket to Tokyo 2020 up for grabs.
In an extremely strong field of nearly 100 competitors, three Kiwis from Marlborough and surrounds finished inside the top 30, landing New Zealand in fourth place – and they would have secured silver were it not for a substitution that added 20 penalties to the team tally.
Sporting the silver fern for the first time, James Avery was one of only five individuals to finish on their dressage score and team New Zealand were the top performers in the final phase, with just 1.6 time penalties across three superb show jumping rounds.
One of a Kind (‘Alfie’), owned by Hazel Livesey, is a relatively new ride for James, having joined his string in April this year. This was Alfie’s first 4*-L, on the back of a 4*-S win at Ballindenisk last month.
James heads to France next week to make his 5* debut at Les Étoiles de Pau with Tiny Clapham and Heidi & Ian Woodhead’s Mr Sneezy, also a 5* first timer.
Jesse Campbell and Cleveland, who Jesse co-owns with Kent Gardner, are a well-established partnership and Cleveland’s sensational show jumping performance dispelled any doubts about his ability to jump clear on the final day of a 4* long format.
New Zealand reserve rider, Dan Jocelyn, got the call up on Friday, after Samantha Lissington’s mare, Ricker Ridge Sooty, was withdrawn following their dressage test. This was the first start at this level for the eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Lissyegan Rory, who Dan has produced from a five-year-old and co-owns with Debbie Cunningham.
Australian team reserve rider, Ogbourne St Andrew’s Catherine Burrell (see photo above), also put in a solid performance with her beautiful eleven-year-old KWPN gelding, Duke. With a dressage score just eight points away from the two leaders’, Duke made light work of the cross country but, uncharacteristically, rolled a rail in the show jumping.
Laura Collett and London 52 were crowned individual champions, finishing on their dressage score of 26.0, which was identical to that of Chris Burton and Clever Louis but, with a cross country time two seconds closer to the optimum than Burton’s, Laura took the title.
After a rollercoaster year for the Cheltenham-based rider and bitter disappointment at the European Championships in Luhmühlen, where London 52 was lying third after the dressage, but fell at the final water, Laura said she was just keen to finish the horse’s year on a positive note. And that she did!
England were fifth in the nation standings, 13 points behind New Zealand, with Germany, Australia and Japan finishing on the podium. And Switzerland secured their Tokyo 2020 qualification, having beaten Belgium and their Dutch hosts across the series.