There are two large competitions over the next two weekends, with Bramham International Horse Trials first, followed by the four-star event, Luhmühlen, in Germany. After Luhmühlen, the New Zealand eventing team will be named, so there are a few nervous eventers hoping to use these last two opportunities to impress the selectors.
Change of luck for Tim?
Most people are wishing Tim Price the best of luck as he scrambles to recover from the blow that was Wesko’s injury and then a run of bad luck with his other top horses. Tim is a genuinely good bloke, but unfortunately it is results that count for selectors, not how far up the “good bloke scale” a person might be.
At Bramham, Tim has his young up-coming Xavier Faer in the CCI3* class but all eyes will be on his entry with Bango who is probably his best chance of getting to Rio. The pair looked to be the only ones able to make it under the time at Kentucky, but then there was disaster at the second to last when Bango tipped Tim off after a very awkward attempt at the corner. Bango is a classy young horse, and a good performance at Bramham could be reassuring for the selectors.
Tim has his promising young Obos Cooley entered in the CIC3* at Bramham, but also has him entered in Luhmühlen, along with his other Olympic possible, Ringwood Sky Boy. Tim will be hoping for a good run at Luhmühlen, but is facing some very stiff competition – especially from the Germans. While Michael Jung is not entered, Ingrid Klimke, Bettina Hoy and current World Champion Sandra Auffarth are all there. Ollie Townend and the NZ-bred Black Tie are also entered. New Zealand’s Tim Rusbridge also has Oneforthenotebook entered, although withdrew this horse before the cross-country at Tattersalls so we hope all is okay there.
Jonelle, Sir Mark & Blyth at Bramham
Jonelle Price is giving her number-one horse Faerie Dianimo a run in the CIC3* at Bramham. We are picking this is the horse that the selectors will want her to take to the Olympics but she also has Classic Moet in contention, of course.
Both Blyth Tait and Sir Mark Todd have two horses up for Olympic selection and both are giving one of their horses a run at Bramham in the CIC3* (the shorter form of three-star class). Blyth has Xanthus II and Sir Mark Todd has NZB Campino entered. Their other potential Olympic horses are Bear Necessity V and Leonidas; both of them performed well at the gruelling Badminton Horse Trials. Sir Mark also has Obos Colombos in the CCI3* and MK San Cero in the CIC3* at Bramham.
Other Olympic contenders
There is no sign of Jock Paget at Bramham or Luhmühlen, but he has Clifton Signature entered later in the month at Farley Hall. With Clifton Lush being an older horse, Jock’s preference is for fewer competitions and he obviously has enough faith in the horse to not have to fine-tune at lead-up events. Has he done enough to warrant selection? Clarke Johnstone is also opting to take Balmoral Sensation to Farley Hall after such a successful Badminton. He must be a strong contender for selection as well. Unfortunately there are only four slots available, so someone has to miss out.
The Nicholson Saga
Then there is Andrew Nicholson. He has a number of high-performing horses entered in both Bramham and Luhmühlen. While his top horse Nereo is not entered in either event, he must be considered a winning chance in all the competitions. He opted out of riding Nereo at Badminton as he said he personally wasn’t fit enough, so Luhmühlen will be his first four-star event after his terrible fall last year. Andrew has Perfect Stranger and Qwanza entered there, and at Bramham he has Teseo and Jet Set IV in the CCI3*.
We are predicting that you won’t see Andrew being named in our Olympic team. We are basing this on the fact that he has often said that the Olympics are not his priority any more, after both the fall-out with ESNZ and his injury last year. His owners also back him on this.
In our article on Quimbo in our June magazine, Libby Sellar, owner of Quimbo, Jet Set and Nereo, said that she couldn’t see the situation being resolved any time soon as Andrew is unyielding and she is totally behind him. “It is past history … I’m out,” referring to the Olympic dream. On a practical level, Nereo would be the horse with the best Olympic medal chance, but he hasn’t had the traditional preparation for an Olympic bid, especially after being withdrawn from Badminton. While ESNZ has said that the door is open for Andrew and he just needs to complete the paperwork necessary to be included, we don’t think he will be picking up a pen… but we are expecting him to feature in other four-star events later in the season.
Exciting horse for Caroline Powell
Getting back to Bramham, there are a number of other New Zealand riders entered. Caroline Powell has Flying Finish and Onwards and Upwards in the CCI3*. Onwards and Upwards was third at Bramham last year in the CIC3* so obviously enjoys this magnificent Ian Stark-designed course. We haven’t seen Caroline out on Flying Finish very often and are looking forward to seeing how these two go at this level. The horse was previously ridden by Lucinda Fredericks, including at the London Olympics in 2012. The German-bred bay is capable of a good dressage and is only 14, so hopefully has many years in front of him at this level.
Other CCI3* entries include Jesse Campbell on Amsterdam II and Dan Jocelyn on Dassett Cool Touch. Jesse also has Cleveland in the CIC3*.
Event Riders Masters Series
Bramham, up in Yorkshire, is a most spectacular venue. It is a Grade I listed 18th century country house that was designed as part of a whole landscape scheme. The important gardens survive, as created, in the style of Le Notre with ornamental canals, cascades and tall beech hedges. Grand vistas extend to temples and an obelisk in woodland.
The event is the second leg of the Event Rider Masters series. Jesse Campbell currently has 12 points after the first event at Chatsworth, so will be hoping for a good run on Amsterdam to move even further up the leaderboard. The series incorporates six iconic British events and riders are competing for the coveted Event Rider Masters title and a £30,000 series first prize.
The event will be live streamed on this link.