Olympic champion returns as fierce Kiwi squad named for WEG

  • Olympic gold medallist Blyth Tait is heading to his first senior championship since “retiring” from eventing 14 years ago.

    The 57-year-old Kiwi rider has been named as one of the five-strong New Zealand squad for this year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG).

    He will ride the 14-year-old gelding Dassett Courage, with Havanna as his reserve horse.

    “I am absolutely delighted,” said Blyth. “It has been a long time. I am very honoured to be part of such a strong team and plan to take the opportunity and give it my all.”

    Blyth announced his retirement from the sport after the 2004 Athens Olympics following a glittering career, but returned to competition in 2011.

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    He joins a host of other eventing legends on the seriously competitive New Zealand squad.

    Double Olympic champion Mark Todd, 62, is named on the 11-year-old gelding McClaren, with his Rio 2016 ride Leonidas II and Kiltubrid Rhapsody, who finished sixth at Badminton 2018, as reserves. This will be his 16th senior championship.

    Both Mark and Blyth were on the New Zealand squad at the first ever WEG at Stockholm in 1990, where they won team gold and Blyth also took the individual title.

    “I am delighted to be on another WEG team and excited to be part of this great bunch of people,” said Mark. “Everything crossed now for the next four weeks to get there safely and in top form.”

    World number five Jonelle Price, 37, is named with her 2018 Badminton winner Classic Moet. Her husband, fellow four-star winner and Tim Price, is named aboard the 11-year-old Cekatinka, with whom he finished third in Aachen, helping the NZ team to victory.

    Tim, 39, who is currently the top-ranked New Zealand eventer in the world at number four, also has Ascona M and his Rio Olympic horse Ringwood Sky Boy as reserve rides.

    Dan Jocelyn, 47, has been named aboard the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding Grovine De Reve, with Dassett Cool Touch and Blackthorn Cruise in reserve.

    The non-travelling reserves are Caroline Powell, 45, (Up Up And Away) and 28-year-old Jesse Campbell (Cleveland).

    New Zealand has a successful history at WEG — the team won gold in 1990 and 1998 as well as bronze in 2010.

    Individual gold medals have been won by Blyth Tait on Messiah and Ready Teddy in 1990 and 1998 respectively, and Vaughn Jefferis (Bounce) in 1994. Mark Todd and Broadcast News won silver in 1998, with Andrew Nicholson and Nereo claiming bronze in 2010.

    This year’s Games take place in Tryon, North Carolina, from 11 to 23 September.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

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