30 Jul 2012

Equestrian team expected to step up

3:26 pm on 30 July 2012

New Zealand's equestrian team is expected to better their eventing placing when they compete in the cross-country at the London Games.

New Zealand is already in 4th-equal place after the dressage section of the competition, in which veteran rider, Mark Todd, finished third, Jonathan Paget placed 17th equal and Andrew Nicholson finished 21st.

New Zealand's 1996 equestrian Olympic bronze medallist Vaughn Jefferis says the New Zealanders should be able to improve their place on the cross-country course at Greenwich Park.

The cross country begins at 11.30pm (NZ time), with five New Zealanders competing.

The final eventing round, show jumping, takes place on Tuesday.

Todd turned back the years to put New Zealand in a strong position after the dressage section of the Olympic three-day eventing competition.

Todd, 56, is competing in his seventh Olympic Games and incurred just 39.1 penalty points with Campino to stand in third place among 74 individual starters in the dressage section.

It was a difficult day for the dressage riders, with rain interrupting proceedings at times.

Jonathan Paget, on Clifton Promise, is the next-best placed New Zealander, in 17th equal with 44.10 penalty points.

Andrew Nicholson, on Nereo, is in 21st place on 45.00 penalty points.

Jefferis says Nicholson had possibly the worst of the weather conditions of the day.

"The officials put a 10 minute compusory break because they thought there were going to be weather and lightning issues, but that's actually quite unsettling for a competitor, Jefferis told Morning Report.

"You time your riding to the minute: I can understand the frustration that Andrew must have gone through today".

The other New Zealand riders - whose scores are not counted in the team standings as only the top three scores are added up - are Caroline Powell, who incurred 52.20 penalty points riding Lenamore, and Jonelle Richards, who incurred 56.70 penalty points on Flintstar.

New Zealand is just nine points behind the overall leaders Germany in the team standings, with Australia in second place and Great Britain in third at the end of the dressage.

The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips made her Olympic debut in the event and is in 24th place on the individual standings.