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NZ equestrian team selected for Paris

Updated: Jul 2

A strong New Zealand eventing team has been selected including Clarke Johnstone (pictured)
Clarke Johnstone will be lining up for his second Olympic Games as part of a strong New Zealand eventing team PHOTO: LUKASZ KOWASKI

A strong team is set to be represent New Zealand in eventing and dressage at this month’s Paris Olympic Games.


The eventing team will will be spear-headed by former world No 1 and 2, Tim and Jonelle Price, who are joined by Clarke Johnstone. Caroline Powell will be the team's travelling reserve. Flying the flag in dressage is Olympic debutant Melissa Galloway.

 

This will be Jonelle Price’s fourth Games – she was a member of the bronze medal-winning team at London (2012), competed at Rio (2016) where the team placed fourth, and Tokyo (2020) for a fifth team placing where she was the best-placed Kiwi in 11th spot. She was also reserve at Athens (2004).


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Jonelle who hails from Motueka but lives in the UK with Tim and their two children, will compete aboard her 12-year-old Dutch-bred mare Hiarado, with Grappa Nera named as her reserve horse.


“I am very delighted to be selected for my fourth Games,” says Jonelle.


“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of any sport and resonates so globally which makes it extra special. I am delighted for myself, the team, friends and family who have all been instrumental in our careers.”


She paid particular tribute to Hiarado’s owners David and Karie Thomson.


 “They have been such big supporters of New Zealand sport in general. I think this is really special for them too. We bought Hiarado two years ago specifically as a potential back-up (for Paris). I just happened to see this mare and really liked her.


World No 9 Tim made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 and also rode at Tokyo 2020. He has been named aboard the 15-year-old German-bred Hanoverian gelding Falco with the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Coup de Coeur Dudevin his reserve horse.


“I am very happy and excited to be involved in the Kiwi team again. Both horses are in good form and healthy. Now it is about us binding together as a team and having that team result we are all so desperate for. We are all in a good place and a great bunch of people who are all bringing forward really exciting horses.”


For Clarke Johnstone, the selection is extra special after a challenging year.


“It has been an incredibly difficult year for me personally after the sudden death of my partner Codey at the end of 2023,” says Clarke.


“Having the goal of the Olympic Games which we were both so invested in has kept me going the past six months and I have poured my heart and soul into training and competing my lovely horses this year to make our goal a reality. I know he would be so proud.”


The achievement is the culmination of years of “single-minded determination”, training and moving to the other side of the world to be in the best possible position to challenge for medals in Paris.


Johnstone is from Outram but is also based in the UK. He is lining up at his second Games, after also debuting at Rio 2016 where his sixth individual placing was the best of the New Zealand riders.


The travelling reserve combination is two-time Olympian Caroline Powell, who is originally from Christchurch, aboard Special Cavalier with whom she recently won the CCI5* at Badminton. Caroline made her Olympic debut at Beijing 2008 and won a team bronze at London 2012.


Dressage representative Melissa Galloway (Marlborough) has a world ranking of 26, the highest ever for a Kiwi.


“I cannot explain what this means to me,” she says of being named for Paris.


“This has been my dream since I was 11 years old and now, 20 years later to be actually realising it is unbelievable. I feel so honoured and grateful to everybody who has supported me on this whole journey for all those years."


She credits her family, and horse Windermere J’Obei W, for making her dreams come true.


“I can’t wait to give it everything we have and do New Zealand proud,” said Galloway who has been based in The Netherlands as she campaigned for the Games.


“Joey (her horse) is feeling in his best shape ever and feels as though he is going to peak at the right time. It is all so surreal. To have made it through all the challenges definitely makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.”


Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance general manager Jock Paget, himself a team bronze medal winner from the London 2012 Olympic Games, said the eventing selection had been particularly hard.


“We had lots of strong combinations to choose from. It was the biggest selection headache I have witnessed in my time but we now have a really strong team who I think will be suitable for what we expect to go into in Paris,” he said.


“Our reserve combinations are strong and committed to being in the best shape possible if called on for the games, and we are looking forward to getting into our final camp to finish our prep.”


It was testament to riders and owners who had committed to being available for the Games and positioned themselves for Olympic selection.


Paget also praised the efforts of Melissa Galloway. “Melissa has been very targeted and dedicated throughout this campaign and I look forward to seeing her take the stage at her first Olympics.”


The eventing competition begins on 27 July at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris, with the dressage beginning three days later.

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