Athens eventing combinations confirmed

  • New Zealand riders Andrew Nicholson and Blyth Tait confirmed the horses that they will be taking to Athens, just ahead of their scheduled departure today.

    Andrew Nicholson, who was on flying form this weekend, with several rides at Gatcombe, will be riding Fenicio, with whom he was second at the Pau World Cup Final last year, and second at Chatsworth in May.

    Tait will be taking Ready Teddy (pictured), with whom he won Punchestown in flamboyant style when the pressure was on to qualify the horse earlier this year.

    The 16-year-old was given the nod ahead of Eze because of his Olympic experience (the combination won gold in Atlanta, 1996 and competed in Sydney, 2000 although they were forced to withdraw after the dressage.)

    Both combinations competed in the dressage at Gatcombe, and there was a serious element of New Zealand bravado about Nicholson all weekend. He pulled out all the stops across country in the British Open Championship with Flush Banker yesterday, recording one of the fastest times of the day with just 1.2 time penalties, although their dressage and show jumping scores pulled them down to ninth. He was also placed in both advanced sections with Duddles (4th) and Early Times (8th).

    This will be Nicholson’s fifth Olympics – his first appearance was at Los Angeles in 1984, with his second appearance, in Barcelona in 1992, throwing him into the record books for all the wrong reasons – he smashed through the show jumps to destroy New Zealand’s massive lead and leave America with gold.

    Matt Ryan has been confirmed as Australia’s travelling reserve, with Bonza Puzzle. The three times Olympic gold medallist avoided the Australian training camp in order to compete at Gatcombe.

    A neat decision given that he went on to finish in the money in the Novice Championship with Master Butler, as well as in fifth (Slight of Hand) and twelfth (Swang Ryan) in the Intermediate Championship.

    The USA has confirmed that the Olympic travelling reserve will be Will Faudree with Antigua. The 22-year-old made his way up the young rider ranks and now trains with Australian Olympic veteran Phillip Dutton.

    Will took over the ride on the 15-year-old Antigua in January 2002, and the combination have enjoyed increasing success ever since, both on the national and international circuit.

    Will is particularly impressed by the speed of the horse across country, and they were one of only a handful of combinations to get home within the time in the Kentucky modified format CCI****.

    Meanwhile, team member Amy Tryon is to ride Poggio II rather than my Beau. The team is due to head out to Greece today, Tuesday, ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday.

  • The British eventing team, is reported to have arrived safely in Athens. The horses arrived early on Saturday morning, with the five riders setting out 24 hours later, to arrive on Sunday morning. Temperatures are not as hot as expected, but acclimatisation is well underway.
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