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Kiwis to arrive in British style to test event

July 4, 2011

Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson - New Zealand's most capped Olympians - are due to arrive for the first day of the 2012 London test event in a traditional black cab, complete with silver fern.

Andrew Nicholson (NZ) and Viscount George.
© Al Crook
Todd, a double gold Olympic medallist Mark Todd, and Nicholson, 2010 World Equestrian Championships bronze medallist, are competing in the Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational which starts today.

It's the first test event of the Olympic sports that New Zealand is involved with and a chance for organisers, athletes and team officials to get a close look with what promises to be a magnificent venue for the Games.

The black cab Todd and Nicholson are arriving in at 10am local time is one of a fleet of four New Zealand-style black cabs on the road in London designed to make Kiwis proud ahead of next year's Olympic Games.

Chef de Mission Dave Currie says he's delighted the athletes are making the most of the taxis.

"Arriving in a black cab featuring team colours will remind Todd and Nicholson what it means to be a proud New Zealander as they prepare for London 2012."

Both Todd and Nicholson have represented New Zealand at six Olympic Games already and are looking strong for record seventh caps. Joining the duo in the NZ team is Clarke Johnstone, who was also part of the bronze medal winning team at the World Championships last year.

The three phase event - dressage, cross country and showjumping - starts on Monday and concludes Wednesday. Todd will ride NZB Campino, Nicholson has Viscount George and Johnstone, who recently relocated to the UK, is aboard Incognito.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris says it's a great opportunity for athletes and key support staff to test the Olympic Venue, from a competition and logistics perspective.

The Kiwis will be up against some of the best combinations in the world at the test event including current world champion Michael Jung (Germany), top British Olympians Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt, and Australian Clayton Fredericks.

In all 40 horses and riders from 23 countries will compete in the event, part of the London Prepares series, the official London 2012 sports testing programme which allows the organising committee the chance to test key event aspects.

Greenwich Park, the oldest enclosed Royal Park in London, is south-east of the city and, along with the adjacent World Heritage Site, is home to many historic buildings, including the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House.

The next big competition for the New Zealand eventers will be at the Aachen International Festival (Germany), the world's largest annual equestrian event, in mid-July where selectors are likely to try other team combinations.

Dave Currie will head to London on July 27, one year out from the Olympic Games, to work with New Zealand sports taking part in the test events including sailing and rowing.

The London Olympic Games take place July 27 - August 12, 2012. The New Zealand team is expected to comprise some 200 athletes taking part in 17 sports.



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