|Lucinda Fredericks Completes The Cross Country With An Inflated Life Jacket|
Are there any eventers left in New Zealand at the moment? Tweseldown hosts one of the season openers for the Open Intermediate class giving Badminton bound horses a pipe opener, and the Kiwis were out in force today. It felt like a third of the field in the 3 OI classes were ridden by New Zealanders, and everytime I looked round there was William Fox-Pitt on course – I recon he accounted for another third of the field!
|Andrew Nicholson | One of Several Kiwis Competing|
Seriously though, today’s OI sections were littered with contenders for Badminton & this year’s London Olympics, with a good mix of riders who have little to prove, those bringing horses back from injury, and those challenging for their first slot on a senior team, not to mention those looking to run at Badminton irrespective of the Greenwich gig, with riders from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the UK.
The kiwis seemed to be out to win, or at least put their horses’ fitness to the test. Andrew Nicholson rarely canters round the cross country and today was no exception giving each of his rides a good run that gave him a first and second in one of the IO classes, followed closely by Mark Todd on NZB Campino, one of the best horses he currently has.
|Paul Tapner | Inonothing Back On Course|
Zara Phillips inevitably made the headlines by winning one of OI sections on the lovely dapple grey Silver Lining, which I remember snapping at Blenheim last year, but her much heralded William Micklem horse, High Kingdom finished further down the field. For me this event was all about the horses coming back from a long time on the injury list, most notably Paul Tapner’s Badminton winner, Inonothing, and Pippa Funnel’s Redesigned. Both were given a nice fluid ride without over taxing them.
As importantly I was interested in the horses headed to Badminton with young British riders looking to pick off some prizemoney whilst others are saving their best for London, or they’re hoping to show the selectors they have a horse in peak condition ready for the Greenwich onslaught. As a first season run, Tweseldown is probably a good starting point for that goal. To this end Rayef performed an outstanding dressage test before being withdrawn by Laura Collett, Kitty King sailed round the cross country on a very keen Boondoogle picking up 20 penalties, but made up for that with a 2nd and 3rd place on her other two mounts Zidante & High Havoc, and Francis Whittington barely broke a sweat on his two Badminton bound horses.
Tiana Coudray temporarily based in the UK with Nick Guantlett, has had mixed fortunes with her grey horse, placed at Blenheim last year, but didn’t look totally on form today. She had to wake the horse up approaching the two hanging logs as it trotted down the hill towards them. Chris Burton gave, his Pau CCI4* horse, Holstein Park Leilani, the perfect early season breeze up, whilst fellow Aussie (well she’s been on the Aussie Team), Lucinda Fredericks, was out to win – and she did on Mr Miller, a really lovely athletic grey. Her other rides however provided the entertainment for the day as she rode halfway round the cross country on one of them with an inflated ‘life jacket’.
The most exciting season of recent times is truly underway……