Mark Todd to represent NZ at World Cup eventing final

August 19, 2009

None of the Kiwi riders who made the qualifying leaderboard for the eventing World Cup will be taking their place in the field in Poland this weekend - but there's an OK fill-in man to take the reins for New Zealand.

Eventing veteran Mark Todd and his Olympic horse Gandalf are on their way to Strzegom

Reigning World Cup champion Clayton Fredericks, of Australia.
© Kit Houghton/FEI

Gandalf and Mark Todd at Gatcombe earlier this month.
© Al Crook

for the final, despite not earning any qualifying points in the lead-up to the event.

Under World Cup eventing rules, six riders from "Group 1" - Australia, Great Britain, USA, New Zealand, France, and Germany are able to compete, along with five riders each from Ireland and Sweden, four each from Belgium, Brazil, and Italy, and two from all other nations.

That means that potentially, six Kiwi riders could have made the field. However, if national quotas can't be filled, the best riders according to classification from the overall ranking are then be invited regardless of quota limitations to fill the quota. One wild card per nation will be allocated by the Eventing Committee to nations of Group 1, or to a rider from another nation with exceptionally successful results.

There will be 31 starters from 14 nations vying for $NZ400,000 (CHF290,000) in prize money. The maximum field size is 40.

Caroline Powell, fifth, was the best placed Kiwi in the rankings.

Among the field are two-time winners Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time representing Australia, and Sweden's Linda Algotsson, who rides 2003 winner Stand By Me, now aged 19. The 2006 winner, France's Nicolas Touzaint, is not a starter.

The World Cup has been Fredericks's main aim all season, and he has been carefully preparing his dual championship winner and jumping machine Ben Along Time, a 4-star winner and Olympic and World silver medalist.

But he will face fierce competition from his travelling companions on the long road across Europe, his wife Lucinda on Headley Britannia and British representatives Ruth Edge (Two Thyme) and Oliver Townend (Flint Curtis), winner and runner-up respectively at the recent Gatcombe (GBR) qualifier. All four horses are 4-star winners.

Edge said that after 'sleeping on it' for 24 hours, she was spurred to travel to the prestigious final, and other British-based riders who have decided it's not to be missed are the former dual Olympic gold medalist Todd and South African Stuart Fitzgerald.

The longest journey by far has been undertaken by US rider Kelly Prather, who has traveled from California with Ballinakill Glory. Her trip was made possible by a new scholarship given in memory of Jack Le Goff, the French-born trainer who died recently.

Germany is the most strongly represented nation, with six riders, including Marina Kohncke, winner of the Malmo qualifier on Calma Schelly, plus Frank Ostholt (Air Jordan) and Kai Ruder (Leprince des Bois), fourth and sixth at last year's HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing Final, plus recent Luhmuhlen 4-star winner Michael Jung with La Biosthetique Sam.

Also represented are Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.

Dressage will take place on Saturday and Cross-Country, followed by the horse inspection and jumping on Sunday.

Cross-country course designer Rudiger Schwarz has made some extensive changes to the course. It will take a different route over a distance of 4400m with 27 fences. It will be one of the most challenging courses to have been built in Poland in recent years.

Strzegom is situated in the south-west quarter of Poland and for three days will become the world capital of eventing.