Mark Todd first Kiwi eventer out at WEG

September 30, 2010

Three New Zealand riders will perform their dressage tests later early tomorrow (NZ time) for the eventing competition at the World Equestrian Games.

Andrew Nicholson trots out Grass Valley for an injured Mark Todd at the first veterinary inspection a few hours ago.
First out at 10.56am (local time) will be NZB Grass Valley with Mark Todd, who has had to give up his new-found running career after injuring his Achilles tendon this week. He was in training for the New York Marathon in November, when he planned to do the run for CatWalk. The injury has not affected his riding.

He will be followed in the dressage by Jonathan Paget on Clifton Promise and Caroline Powell on Mac MacDonald. On the second day (Friday, US time) the remaining two Kiwi riders, Clarke Johnstone on Orient Express and Andrew Nicholson and Nereo will be in the dressage arena.

Paget will ride as an individual, with the rest making up the team. Three of the four scores count towards the team total.

Chef d'equipe Erik Duvander had the Kiwi riders out walking the cross-country course and has no doubt all of the 80 starters will be well and truly tested by it.

"It is very much a proper world games track and exactly what we expected from (course designer) Mike Etherington-Smith," he said. "It's undulating, so a real test of fitness, but very fair - it's typical of his style."

That said, it's just what the Kiwis were selected on and trained for.

Duvander, who has ridden at Olympic level for Sweden and was part of the gold medal winning team at the European Championships, says his team is in a particularly good space.

"This is one of the best environments to be in, and our riders are thriving. It's the perfect place to achieve."

Todd will be first out of the Kiwis on Saturday for the cross country phase, and will then stay near the start box to brief the other Kiwi riders before they go out.

"There is not a better man in the world to do that," says Duvander.

Nicholson will be the last to go in the team in the cross country.

"He's just been doing so well all year ... here's hoping that continues."

The draw had been kind to New Zealand this year, which couldn't be said for some earlier games.

Paget, riding as an individual, had developed incredibly within the high performance environment over the past 18 months, and Duvander said he'd have no trouble moving him up into the team if the need arose.

• The winning team is that with the lowest total of penalty points, after adding together the final scores of the three highest placed athletes in the team. For the purposes of team classification only, an athlete who fails for any reason to complete the entire competition will be awarded 1000 penalty points.

The New Zealand eventing contingent: (L-R) Caroline Powell and Mac MacDonald, Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express, Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise, Mark Todd and NZB Grass Valley, and Andrew Nicholson and Nereo.