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Vaulting and Showjumping take Centre Stage at WEG

Vaulting and Showjumping take Centre Stage at WEG

New Zealand representatives in vaulting and showjumping will grace the arenas in the final week of competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France.

In the jumping, Norway based Bruce Goodin is New Zealand's only representative.

While a veteran of four Olympic Games, he is on debut at world champs, where he will ride his 11-year-old mare Centina 10 (owned by Glen and Kartni Neilsen).

This afternoon he had his first training ride in the massive D'Ornano Stadium where his pretty flea-bitten grey got a good look at the sheer size of the everything, albeit less the 20,000-odd people that will fill the seats.

"She's jumped in a few indoor events, but not big stadiums like that," said Goodin. "She feels good and ready to get out there and compete."

Their first competiton will be tomorrow's (Tuesday, France time) speed round. And while Centina is a naturally fast and quick horse, Goodin says he will be looking to post a good score rather than go out for the win.

"We are aiming for that top four, and there is a lot of jumping to be done between now and then."

They'll be facing some stiff opposition, with a record 158 combinations from 54 countries on the card.

In tomorrow's speed competition, there is a four-second penalty for every fence down, after which rider's results are calculated into penalties. The top 30 riders will compete in the qualifier for the individual top four final.

The Kiwi vaulters are also primed and ready for their competition which also gets underway tomorrow. Today Ikarus (owned by Karin Kiontke and Antonia Schubert) breezed through the vet inspection, and the team got their first look at their competition arena.

Team manager Lyn McIntyre says it has been a huge effort by a lot of people to get the eight vaulters – including two reserves – ranging in age from 11 through to 21 years old, and two trainers to France.

“This has been six years in the making so we are very excited to be here,” she said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for these athletes.”

She was confident the many performances they had done at home would set them in good stead here.

Their 17-year-old Dutch-bred horse, who lives in Germany, has been at WEG once before when he was a reserve for the United States. He is very consistent at top level and does a lot of international competition.

The campaign to compete at WEG has cost around $80,000 and McIntyre says New Zealand's wider equine industry contributed to making it happen. They haven't quite raised the full amount, but there are still initiatives under way at home. The team has even received donations from other vaulting nations.

“The vaulting fraternity is very much a family.”

It is hoped in the future there will be more interaction between New Zealand and Australia vaulters, with interest also expressed from Germany clubs to visit the Southern Hemisphere.

“It really does make the world a better place.”

The Fact Box

• The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games run from August 23 – September 7 in France.

• New Zealand will be represented by teams in endurance (Aug 28), eventing (Aug 28-31) and vaulting (Sept 2-5), and individuals in para-dressage (Aug 25-29) and showjumping (Sept 2-7).

• New Zealand has a very successful history at WEG – the team won gold in 1990 and 1998, and bronze in 2010. Individually, gold medals have been won by Blyth Tait and Messiah in 1990, Vaughn Jefferis and Bounce in 1994, and Tait and Ready Teddy in 1998. Todd and Broadcast News won silver in 1998, and in 2010 Andrew Nicholson and Nereo won bronze.

• WEG is held every four years in different locations.

• A record 76 countries are expected to take part, making it the world’s largest equestrian sport event which includes 1000 competitors.

• More than 500,000 people are expected to attend over the two weeks.

• For more information, head to www.normandy2014.com .

ends


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