Marlborough-based event rider Jesse Campbell will represent New Zealand as part of the Nations Cup team competing at Boekelo in Holland later this week.
The New Zealand Eventing High Performance selectors have asked Jesse to re-route his New Zealand-bred, ex-racehorse Kaapachino from Pau CCI4* to Boekelo CCI3* in order to help his country gain qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after they failed to do so at last year’s World Championships.
New Zealand could qualify for Rio through individual riders FEI rankings. However, if New Zealand qualify at Boekelo they will be able to travel a reserve to Rio, an option not available to the teams who qualify through FEI rankings, and a definite advantage to the NZ team who will arrive in Brazil a week before the Games begin.
Jesse said: “It is a tremendous honour to be asked to ride on the New Zealand team. Kaapachino is a gorgeous horse, but not the most gifted. His conformation makes the jumping phase hard for him and his movement is not in the same league as the horses bred for specifically for eventing, but he is a horse with a tremendous heart who tries incredibly hard for me.
“The fact he consistently achieves 75 per cent in his four star and three star dressage tests – a record for a NZ ex-racehorse, and that he consistently completes cross-country without faults and within the time, is testament to how hard he tries and the special nature of our relationship. He’s my best friend and there is no other horse I want to be riding for New Zealand at this crucial time.”
Jesse’s recent form has stood in him good stead for selection. At Millstreet in Ireland in August, he won both the CIC3* and CIC2* with Kaapachinao and Cleveland respectively.
He said: “Both horses were amazing and if Kaapy (Kaapachino) can reproduce that form it would be great. The forecast for Boekelo is for some rain and the conditions in Holland’s low lying flats will be heavy, which is very tiring for horses competing on these long format international tracks. Sue Benson, who designed the 2012 London Olympic Games cross-country course, is the course designer and it will be a true international test of accuracy, courage and endurance.“
Other countries competing include Germany, Holland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, Japan and the US. The UK-based Australian riders have been in red-hot form of recent times, and the US is fully funding a team to fly from the US to Boekelo.
The competition is shaping up to be a battle of the best.