Equestrian: Plans up in the air after Badminton cancelled

Mark Todd won the Badminton Horse Trials last year. Photo / Supplied
Mark Todd won the Badminton Horse Trials last year. Photo / Supplied

The plans of some of New Zealand's top equestrian riders have been thrown out of kilter with the cancellation of the Badminton Horse Trials due to flooding in Gloucestershire.

The famous event was due to start on Friday (NZT) and it was hoped it would go a long way to confirming the New Zealand team to compete at the Olympics. It won't really affect the plans of Mark Todd, who was to have defended the title he won last year, and Andrew Nicholson but others were hoping to prove their credentials ahead of the London Games.

With one eye on the Olympics, Todd was resting his top mount, Land Vision, and Nicholson was also resting Nereo. Both were going to ride backup rides to give them more experience at the prestigious event.

Caroline Powell and Jock Paget, however, were hoping to perform strongly to solidify their plans for the Olympics.

Powell needed her ageing horse Lenamore to prove his fitness and form to be included in the New Zealand team for London and Paget was due to ride Clifton Lush, one of two horses he is considering for the Olympics. Over the weekend he finished sixth at the Kentucky four-star event in the US on Clifton Promise.

Clarke Johnstone, who is also battling for a start at London, was going to bypass Badminton because he was resting his top mount Orient Express and his other horses were injured.

Equestrian New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris said a number of riders would now need to adjust their schedules.

"Basically what'll happen now is that there's a series of the three stars that we talked about earlier, the lower, the next level down, they'll have an awful lot more importance in terms of who makes that final cut,'' she said. "There's probably a hundred horses that were going to Badminton and they're all going to try and shuffle down into other events throughout the UK so that's going to have a massive impact on the UK and European events.''

It's the first since 1987 that Badminton has been cancelled due to weather, although it wasn't held in 2001 due to foot and mouth disease in Britain.

- APNZ

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