Four-star event rider Lauren Innes has switched flags to compete for New Zealand.
Lauren, 30, who will make her five-star debut at the 2022 Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, previously rode for Britain and has a string of top results with her own Global Fision M (“Flipper”).
The pair have eight cross-country clears at four-star level as a combination on their CV, including finishing third at Blair CCI4*-L and 11th at Bicton CCI4*-L in 2021.
They also topped Bicton CCI3*-S in 2020 and were part of the silver medal-winning squad at the 2019 European Cup, a team competition at three-star level.
“My dad is a Kiwi and I’ve always had a New Zealand passport as well as my British one,” Lauren told H&H.
She added that she has looked into the possibility of riding for New Zealand several times over the years. First when she was in young riders, then a couple of years ago she spoke to Graeme Thom, New Zealand’s former eventing high performance manager and chef d’equipe.
With just one horse and not having reached the level of four-star form that she now has, the idea was put on ice to see how things panned out.
“Looking at the FEI eventing world rankings, there’s nine Brits in the top 20 and 15 in the top 30. I’ve never been able to get the squad support, as a one-horse rider I’m not really on their radar,” she said.
“I find it really helpful doing team course-walks and having access to support, such as vets and physios at events.”
Access to that support, she added, was a major driver behind her decision and Lauren has already enjoyed her first squad dinner and training session.
And while successfully reaching “Badminton Sunday” is the main focus of her sights at present, this is a partnership to watch.
“Flipper is incredibly talented,” said Lauren, who was crowned H&H’s amateur rider of the year 2021 and balances eventing with her job as an accountant, adding that the switch has been “fantastic so far”.
Lauren’s first international start under the Kiwi flag was in the Lycetts Grantham Cup CCI4*-S at Thoresby aboard Flipper (31 March to 3 April) , where the pair reached another milestone on their road to Badminton with a confident double clear.
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