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The Barbury Castle International Horse Trials in the UK this weekend are the last chance for any would-be Olympians to impress the New Zealand eventing selectors.
Twelve New Zealand combinations are entered including Mark Todd, Clarke Johnstone, Andrew Nicholson, Jonathan Paget and Lucy Jackson, who will be hoping they’ve already done enough to make that all-important five-strong team for the London Olympics but a strong showing this weekend can cement a place.
Johnstone has his 2010 World Champs mount Orient Express while Todd rides his preferred Olympic mount NZB Campino. Paget competes on Clifton Lush, and Nicholson has Quimbo and Avebury while Jackson has Kilcoltrim Ambassador and Animator II.
Joining them are fellow Kiwis Alice Montgomery aboard Gordon, Craig Nicoli on Just Ironic, Bruce Haskell on Kiwi Smog, Jesse Campbell on Kaapachino, and Debbie Mitchell on Waimak.
A victory by a New Zealander would create history – no Kiwi rider has ever won the main class at Barbury Castle - and the winner will pocket $NZ8,000.
Barbury Castle has a renowned cross country course, built for the inaugural event in 2005 by leading international course designer Captain Mark Phillips, who continues in that role this weekend. The fences are constructed by the Willis brothers who have built at the likes of Badminton, the Gatcombe British Open Championships and the Sydney, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics. The Barbury Estate, which runs 800 hectares of farmland, woodland and downland, is just outside Marlborough in Wiltshire.
The event runs from June 28 through to July 1, with dressage filling the first two days, followed by showjumping and cross country.