‘Some may think I’m mad’: top rider moves across the world ahead of Paris 2024

  • New Zealand five-star eventer Monica Spencer is making a “sink or swim move” to the United States as she “gives it her all” for Paris 2024.

    This week Monica, who was part of the New Zealand bronze medal-winning squad at the 2022 World Championships, flew to the US with her husband Andrew, and the couple’s two-year-old son Gus, on a “family adventure with a high performance twist”.

    Last year Monica was based in Pennsylvania at Somehowe Yard with her top horse Artist, but she has now made a more permanent move, and will be based in Ocala, Florida, at the same stable as her countryman Edward Ewbank.

    Former racehorse Artist is already in Florida and is being hacked out by Edward in preparation for the start of the season. Monica’s up-and-coming rides, Marvel (owned by Sanda and David Ray, and Monica and Andrew), Aviator (owned by Monica and Andrew) and Valkyrie (owned by Ken Quigley, and Monica and Andrew), depart for the US on 12 February.

    “Some may think I am mad taking three two-star horses up there with me but I am covering my bases. I think all of these horses have Olympic potential,” she said.

    “This is the big move – sink or swim!”

    The plan is that Monica and her family will be based in the US through to the LA Games in 2028.

    “Artist will only be 16 then too, so may be a contender as well,” said Monica.

    Monica is now focusing on the CCI5* Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event on 25 to 28 April, which she will be targeting with Artist. It will be the pair’s Kentucky debut, and third start at five-star together. They were seventh at Maryland 5 Star in October.

    Monica has found the US “hugely welcoming”.

    “There’s a real hype around eventing there and they have two five-stars now so that’s cool,” she said.

    “The climate suits me and I see it as a good place to build a business and prepare for pinnacle events. It is certainly close enough to Europe with US riders having made it pretty easy to shoot over and do the big ones. There is a lot of opportunity in the US and that excites me.”

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