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Bronze for NZ in Aachen

Bronze for NZ in Aachen

Victorious... bronze for the New Zealand team at the 10th World University Equestrian Championships in Aachen. (from left) Chloe Akers (Opiki), Rachael Bentall (Hawke’s Bay) and Helen Bruce (Feilding). Photograph by Denise Bentall.

New Zealand has won team bronze at the 10th World University Equestrian Championships in Aachen this morning (Monday).

Rachael Bentall (Hawke’s Bay), Chloe Akers (Opiki) and Helen Bruce (Feilding) excelled in dressage and jumping to take bronze behind hosts and winners Germany, with France taking silver.

It was a rather complicated format that saw the Kiwis make it through to the final day. Twenty-six countries started at the beginning of the event, with the final selection all starting with a clean slate to decide the eventual placings.

Riders aboard borrowed horses had to do a dressage test as a group, followed by a challenging jumping course.

Dressage coach and elite New Zealand rider Penny Castle (Ashhurst) was rapt with their efforts which saw them finish less than a mark behind France and just two behind Germany.

“The riders had just five minutes to warm up inside the main arena and have never experienced anything like this before,” she said. “Both France and Germany are seasoned campaigners at this type of event.”

With just two marks separating the three teams, the pressure was on in the jumping.

Akers won her section with a very polished round, with Bruce and Bentall each giving it their all but striking a few minor problems.

Trainer John Cottle (Auckland) said the bronze medal was “beyond” their expectations at the champs.

“It’s the first time New Zealand has had a team at the championships and they’ve done brilliantly,” he said. “This is out of season for us, and their efforts are a real credit to the work they have put in over the winter months.”

He also congratulated dressage coach Castle.

All three of the riders have represented New Zealand before.

Bruce has just graduated from Massey University with a degree in applied science majoring in agriculture, and is a regular competitor in both eventing and jumping.

Akers, a trainee primary school teacher who won the inaugural New Zealand Universities Championship, is an award-winning jumper, but has previously competed in dressage.

Bentall, who is in her third year of medicine at Auckland University, says making the Aachen team is the most exciting to date for her too, despite having ridden for the nation in Australia, Korea and South Africa.

Final results -

Germany 78.34 gold, France 77.53 silver, New Zealand 63.18 bronze.


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