Much Hanging on Olympic Qualifier at Boekelo

All eyes will be on the New Zealand eventers this week as they chase qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics in the CCI3* at the Military Boekelo Horse Trials in The Netherlands.

New Zealand takes on Japan and Australia for the single team slot available from Group G, although the latter have already qualified through their efforts at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand will name the four combinations who will compete as a team, after the first horse inspection early on Thursday morning (NZ time).

The long list for the team is Jonelle Price aboard Cloud Dancer II, Jesse Campbell on Kaapachino, Tim Price on Xavier Faer, Blyth Tait on Xanthus III and Dan Jocelyn on Dassett Cool Touch.

Tait has both twice won the CCI3* at Boekelo, with Lizzie Brown and Andrew Nicholson also on the honours board.

Tait lines up his 13-year-old bay gelding Xanthus III who last competed at Boekelo in 2013, having last won the event in 1997 aboard Chesterfield, and in 1994 on Aspyring.

World number five Jonelle Price and her eight-year-old black gelding Cloud Dancer rode a brilliant competition at the recent Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, leading from the start to take the CIC3* victory.

The combination were also fifth in the CIC3* at Luhmuhlen this year, but neither horse nor rider have competed at Boekelo.

Campbell and the 12-year-old bay gelding Kaapachino completed Boekelo in 2012 and recently won the CIC3* at the Millstreet Drishane Castle International Horse Trials in Ireland.

Both Price and Jocelyn have completed Boekelo on numerous occasions, however it will be first time starts there for both of their nine-year-old horses,  Xavier Faer and the Irish bred Dassett Cool Touch.

ESNZ high performance eventing coach Erik Duvander says while the Boekelo event is crucial and would allow him to sign off the Olympic qualification a little sooner than waiting on the FEI Rider Rankings, he was also focused on ensuring other horses were primed and ready for upcoming four star events in preparation for Rio.

We need to be playing two games here, says Duvander. The Olympic qualifier and the Olympic campaign.

Riders need to gain FEI points should New Zealand need to qualify through rider rankings.

There is one more four star event to come this year, and that is at Pau where Frenchman Pierre Michelet will design the cross country course. He will also have the same job at the 2016 Olympic Games.

It is key our riders get out on his courses.

Duvander is expecting competitors to be challenged at Boekelo.

It is always a reasonably touch cross country and there is a strong field expected. However, the riders we have selected are all very strong and experienced, so we are relying on them to do well.

Extra team training days had been added in preparation for Boekelo to ensure the horses arrived in premium condition at the event.

The Kiwis will be looking for the win, and using the event to again embed their team processes and systems that will be used at Rio. That includes the support crew for the team, who look after the horses health and the coaches.

Other New Zealanders competing at Boekelo as individuals are 2013 winner Lizzie Brown and 15-year-old New Zealand-bred Hanoverian Henton Attorney General and Jocelyn on Beaucatcher.

Combinations face their first horse inspection on Wednesday (October 7), followed by two days of dressage, the cross country on Saturday and the showjumping on Sunday.

The New Zealand riders, horses and owners

Jonelle Price on Cloud Dancer II (owned by The Marley and Me Syndicate)

Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino (owned by Jesse and Dr Craig Campbell)

Tim Price and Xavier Faer (owned by Trisha Rickards)

Blyth Tait and Xanthus III (owned by Jane Lovell-Smith and Tait)

Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch (owned by Therese Miller)

Lizzie Brown and Henton Attorney General (owned by Tessa Grant and Brown)

Dan Jocelyn on Beaucatcher (owned by Jocelyn)

Lizzie Brown on Princeton II (owned by Brown)


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