New Zealand riders will be aiming to make an Olympic-sized statement when they start competition at the Kentucky four-star event today.
The Kentucky trial is one of six four-star events on the annual eventing calendar. Strong form there, and at the Badminton trial in early May, will be invaluable to put into the Olympic mix. Badminton is effectively the last chance for riders to put their case.
No rider has more to prove than former Kentucky winner Blyth Tait.
The former Olympic and world individual champion is making a run to force his way into the team.
He will ride Xanthus III, his 14-year-old bay gelding, who was second at the three-star special Olympic qualifier in Boekelo in the Netherlands late last year.
Tait is going to have to produce outstanding form considering double Olympic champion Mark Todd, Jock Paget and top class husband-and-wife team Tim and Jonelle Price appear to have a lock on the four positions.
Todd has his London 2012 team bronze medal-winning NZB Campino in Kentucky for the first time, however the combination has starts at other four-star events in Badminton, Pau and Luhmuhlen.
Tim Price was looking to go one better than his runner-up spot on Wesko last year, however the horse has been sidelined by injury. He has 10-year-old Bango in Kentucky. The pair finished fourth at Luhmuhlen in his first four-star start last year.
"Bango is a serious contender for the big events," Price said.
"He's a top quality horse and it's just a matter of time before he starts being completely established at this level."
Paget will ride Clifton Signature, an 11-year-old chestnut having his second four star start.
American-based Joe Meyer completes the New Zealand competitors, riding Clip Clop in the horse's first four-star start.