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New Zealand riders are expected to make quite a debut at the 10th World University Equestrian Championships in Aachen, Germany, this week.
Rachael Bentall, Chloe Akers and Helen Bruce will be the first ever Kiwi representatives at the biennial German event, but trainer John Cottle is picking they will do well.
“It’s a new competition for us, but these girls are all great team members, good riders and will be excellent ambassadors for the country,” he said.
The competition calls for skills in both dressage and showjumping, and that’s in the favour of the Kiwi trio.
“All have jumped to a high level so I am not at all concerned about that,” says Cottle. “The dressage will be the bigger test for our riders, but they all also competed in that before too.”
All have ridden for New Zealand before – 23-year-old Bruce (Feilding) in both eventing and showjumping at young rider level, with both 22-year-old Akers (Opiki) and 21-year-old Bentall (Auckland/Hawke’s Bay) in equitation and young rider showjumping.
Bruce has just graduated from Massey University with a degree in applied science majoring in agriculture, and is a regular competitor in both eventing and showjumping..
Akers, a trainee primary school teacher who won the inaugural New Zealand Universities Championship, is an award-winning showjumper, but has previously competed in dressage.
Bentall, who is in her third year of medicine at Auckland University, says making the Aachen team is the most exciting to date for her too, despite having ridden for the nation in Australia, Korea and South Africa.
The championships will run from August 22 through to 26 and are held in the same stunning grounds as the 2006 World Equestrian Games. The competition is run in a knock-out format with tests in both disciplines getting progressively tougher – dressage to Prix St George level and showjumping to 1.4m.
The champs have attracted a record number of entries, with more than 200 riders from 22-plus countries expected.