Aust-based Kiwi aims for eventing honours

November 3, 2009

Eventing's Trans-Tasman challenge later this month is a step along the path to the World Equestrian Games next year and the Olympic Games in 2012 for Australian-based New Zealander Blair Richardson.

Richardson, who is based in Scone in New South Wales, will ride his talented eventer Spend Up as part of the four-rider Trans Tasman team at the forthcoming Australian International Three Day Event from November 13 to 15 in Adelaide.

Blair Richardson says the Adelaide four-star is a big step up for Spend Up, but he's confident in the 12-year-old's abilities.
The International CCI4* (four star) event is the most significant event in the Southern Hemisphere and is a vital stepping stone to selection for the World Equestrian Games to be held in Kentucky next year as well as the 2012 London Olympics.

Richardson partnered Maximum Overkill to victory on the Kiwi team for the 2007 Trans Tasman Challenge held in Taupo and he is keen to repeat the performance. He joins New Zealand-based riders Clarke Johnstone, Jenna Mahoney and Heelan Tompkins.

The final make-up of the Australian team is yet to be confirmed with riders vying for spots including Olympians Megan Jones, Stuart Tinney, Sonja Johnson, and Wendy Schaeffer, and reigning NSW state championship winner Chris Burton. The team of four will be named an hour after the first horse inspection at the event.

New Zealand officials advised Richardson in August he had made the squad after he finished second at Berrima CNC3* before achieving a qualifying ninth place at Melbourne CCI3* in June. Sound results at the NSW State Championships in Goulburn a fortnight ago sealed Richardson's place on the team.

"The thing with 'Wally' (Spend Up) is that he puts in 200 per cent every time. So, although it is his first attempt at this level, and he has not had an ideal preparation due to having to manage injuries, I am confident he will give it his best shot," Richardson said.

"Although he is reasonably inexperienced, he went well at Goulburn and jumped clear on a course where a lot of the top riders had problems, at his first outing since Melbourne," he added.

Blair Richardson and Spend Up.
"If we go well at Adelaide and I can get the right amount of work into him, we are on track for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky next year and onward from there, but this will be a big challenge for him."

Richardson brought the son of Big Spender over from New Zealand six years ago and after climbing rapidly through the grades, the gelding was given time off. He is now 12.

"He initially flew through his classes very quickly, from novice to third at a CCI 3* event at Camperdown, and then had two years off," Blair says.

"Cross- country is his biggest strength, he really wants to do it for you. I am really excited to be on the team again, although I am on a relatively green horse whereas Max was more experienced," Richardson said.

"I feel a little more pressure this time around, it is another big step for Wally. we have a good partnership and this is a big ask for both of us. But I am feeling confident he will do his best."

Richardson said retaining the Trans Tasman title would be a challenge because there is plenty of depth among Australia's elite eventers at present.

Working pupils Helen Goddard and Diane Gilder will compete on Kilburi Mambo and Foreal in the CCI2* event. Both are based full time at Vantage Hill.

"I am very grateful to my sponsors, especially Bates and Mitavite, for making it possible for me to participate in this event," Richardson said.