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France Bound for Kiwi Trio

France Bound for Kiwi Trio

New Zealand is fielding a solid team in the first biggie of the Northern Hemisphere eventing season, the opening leg of the FEI Nations Cup this week.

Sir Mark Todd will be joined by fellow London Olympian Jonelle Richards as well as Megan Heath at the three star event at Fontainebleau in France and organisers are picking them as one of the teams to watch, alongside other London medallists Germany and Great Britain.

Todd will ride Regent Lad for the team, and his London mount NZB Campino as an individual, while Richards adds her Olympic horse Flintstar to the team line-up and The Deputy as an individual. Heath is competing on St Daniel.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris says the main aim for the Kiwis at the event is building on their team environment.

“Megan has had some very good results in the UK in the past 12 months and will be looking for a good run to prove herself as a contender for our HP programme.”

The Nations Cup series is a new team-based league and Harris says that while New Zealand support it, they’ll be keeping a bit of a watching brief on it to ensure it benefits the Kiwi combinations.

“It is still being trialled by the FEI, so there isn’t a lot of prize money incentive for teams at the event,” she said. “It is still very early in the season, but these are good riders on good horses, so we are confident of a podium finish.

“The 2014 World Equestrian Games in France is our next targeted pinnacle event, but we will also be looking for individuals to dominate the four star competitions, including the Rolex in Kentucky, Badminton, Luhmuhlen, Burghley and Pau.”

ESNZ HP coach Erik Duvander says it is going to be an interesting weekend at Fontainebleau.

“There are eight teams entered, including the Germans with three of their Olympic riders.”

But he’s expecting top results from his trio of riders.

“We are there with a team that all have great horses,” said Duvander. “These horses haven’t had a lot of runs, but they are experienced, so should go well..”

The dressage will be held over two days, with the cross country on Saturday (France time) followed by the showjumping on Sunday.

The Fontainebleau FEI Nations Cup event is part of a series that also includes Houghton Hall (Great Britain), Strzegom (Poland) Aachen (Germany), Montelibretti (Italy) and Boekelo (The Netherlands).

ENDS

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