Andrew Nicholson: ‘Perhaps they think I’m old and past it’ [H&H VIP]

  • “Perhaps they think I’m old and past it,” Andrew Nicholson remarked to H&H following the news that he has been left off the New Zealand high performance squad list for 2015 — despite making himself available for selection.

    In October Andrew withdrew himself from the selection process until a review following the World Equestrian Games (WEG).

    Andrew said he had since written to Equestrian Sport New Zealand (ESNZ) putting himself forward for the squad, but this hadn’t been passed to the squad’s selectors by ESNZ.

    “I said I’d be available but they clearly don’t want me,” Andrew told H&H.

    “I’m disappointed with them, but obviously they have their own reasons.”

    Andrew, who is the country’s best-performing rider — winning a Burghley hat-trick, as well as leading the Kiwi team to bronze at London 2012 — was not among the seven riders named last month.

    Mark Todd, Jock Paget, Caroline Powell, Lucy Jackson, Clarke Johnstone and Jonelle and Tim Price make up the list.

    “Andrew officially withdrew himself on 2 October 2014,” Vicki Glynn of ESNZ told H&H.

    “We accepted that withdrawal, which was part of an internal agreement between ESNZ and Andrew. While Andrew more recently asked to return, in ESNZ’s view the circumstances have not changed.

    “We look forward to Andrew competing as an individual for New Zealand at international events over the coming year.”

    She added that the next squad review will be mid-2015.

    The news follows a reported disagreement between Andrew and a team vet at WEG.

    The seven-time Olympian alleged his ride Nereo was left without veterinary assistance on several occasions.

    He maintains that he had to find someone to track the vet down, which led to “robust discussion and an argument”.

    ESNZ countered this.

    “Horse wellbeing is always ESNZ’s primary concern,” said Vicki Glynn.

    “The cross-country at WEG 2014 was particularly arduous, largely due to weather conditions leading up to the event.

    “Our support team performed exceptionally, and we have absolute confidence that everything necessary was done for all our horses to ensure their best recovery.”

    The organisation maintains this incident was unrelated to Andrew’s omission.

    One of the team vets, Ollie Pynn, announced his departure from ESNZ following WEG.

    “I got the impression my complaints had been taken on board and that the situation had been resolved,” said Andrew.

    “But the federation is obviously confident in the squad it’s got, and if it are happy to leave me off then fair enough. ESNZ said the team did really well last year — which is hard to imagine given the results at WEG.”

    The New Zealand team did not complete at WEG, so in order to go to Rio 2016 the team must qualify at the Asia-Pacific Championships or by qualifying a “composite” team of athletes through the FEI rider rankings.

    Andrew said he wouldn’t let this news affect his training.

    “I will just try to carry on improving as I normally do,” he said.

    “It’s not the first time I haven’t been on the high performance list and I’ve been okay before.

    “It’s now full steam ahead for this year, trying to be as successful as I can be.”

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 8 January 2015