ESNZ recently announced some changes to not only the members of the various squads, but also to their structure.
It has been over a year since the last squads were announced, and of course there have been a lot of changes since December 2015. Horses have been injured, riders’ situations have changed and results have varied.
There were no surprises at the top rung, the High Performance Squad. It is expected that the team for the September 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina will come from this squad of nine, although with 18 months to go, there will be more changes for sure. Still no Andrew Nicholson, who has previously declared he doesn’t have aspirations to ride for New Zealand in a teams situation any more.
Sir Mark Todd has his top two horses named – Leonidas II and NZB Campino, and Tim and Jonelle Price have two each too. Tim has Ringwood Skyboy and Bango, whereas last year he also had the lovely Wesko in this squad. Unfortunately Wesko suffered a significant injury and hasn’t been seen out competing since. Tim competed at the Olympics on Ringwood Skyboy.
Jonelle has Classic Moet and her Olympic horse, Faerie Dianimo in the squad. Blyth has Bear Necessity, with Xanthus, who was named in the squad as well last year, now loving life in New Zealand. Blyth also has Darius and Leo Distinction competing well at 3* level, and while those horses haven’t been named on any squads, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them added at some point.
It is good to see Caroline Powell back in the squad with Onwards and Upwards and she too has a good team of horses rising up the levels. Clarke Johnstone is the only New Zealand-based rider in this squad, with Balmoral Sensation. One of the big names missing from that top squad is Jock Paget, with his team of horses. Jock has moved back to New Zealand and significantly reduced the size of his team and has been named in the second-tier squad, the High Performance Futures Squad with his top horse now, Angus Blue.
The High Performance Futures Squad replaces the former High Performance Accelerator Squad and consists of combinations that have proven 3* performances in an international field, with the potential to win or be placed in an international 3* field. These combinations are being aimed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Jonelle, Tim and Sir Mark have all been named on this squad as well, with additional horses. Jonelle’s Cloud Dancer, Tim’s Xavier Faer, and Sir Mark’s Kiltubrid Rhapsody have impressed. Jesse Campbell was also named on this squad with two horses, Amsterdam 21 and Clevedon. There is no mention in any of the squads of Kaapachino, who Jesse has competed at 4* level.
Dan Jocelyn retains his spot with Dasset Cool Touch. Lucy Jackson isn’t named in this squad as she was in 2015, but she is expecting her first child soon! She has been named in the Future Potential Recognition Squad which has ten riders but no horses named.
This squad is made up of riders with the expertise to produce a horse to high performance level, and who are actively training and competing horses of future potential but are yet to attain the performances required of the High Performance Squads.
James Avery has made his way into this squad. He is now based at Joe Giannamore’s yard in Wiltshire – Jock Paget’s former base. He has a promising team, Cadillac, Quickly 2 and Legoland Cooley, with Cadillac being the best performed last season.
Megan Heath and Lizzie Green are also back in this squad, and Neil Spratt and Joe Meyer are new names. Joe has made no secret of his desire to be back in a New Zealand team and has been campaigning successfully from his Florida, USA base. He will be looking for a good performance at Kentucky with Clip Clop to move up the ranks and into the team for WEG. You can read about his aspirations in our recent interview with Joe.
There are also four New Zealand-based riders on this squad: Donna Edwards-Smith, Amanda Pottinger, Samantha Felton and Ginny Thompson. That has to be a good sign for them with the naming of the Oceania teams, to compete at the Melbourne 3-Day Event in June, due soon. There is also a junior team to be named, and those on the Talent Development and Talent ID squad have caught the selectors’ eye.
Abby Lawrence, Andy Daines, Tayla Mason, Sarah Young and Ashleigh McKinstry have all been named on the Talent Development Squad. The Talent ID Squad is Abigail Long, Danielle Wheeler, Jackson Bovill, Vicky Browne-Cole, Renee Faulkner, Beth Wilson and Lucy Turner. While the Prices, Clarke and Caroline originally hailed from the mainland, Lucy Turner is the only rider currently based in the South Island named in any of the squads.
Ashleigh McKinstry is a new name on the list, having produced some good results already this season. Beth Wilson is another new name, and the young rider will be hoping that all the learning she did during last year’s trip to Jonelle and Tim’s place as well as Jock Paget’s in the UK will pay off.
Names that appeared on the Talent ID list in December 2015 not named this year include Francesca Silver, Sam Mynott, Madison Crowe, Aleisha Collett and Bonnie Farrant. Many of these promising young riders are building up their teams and we expect to see them back in squads and prizegivings before long, if not next weekend!
The long-list for both Oceania teams will be named following the South Island Three-Day Event and the final two teams of four riders and horses, each with one non-travelling reserve, will be named prior to the NRM National Three-Day Event.
The selectors are Bill Phiskie, Judy Bradwell, Cindy Llewellyn, Mitty Forsyth and Vicki Glynn.