Equestrian selection 'surreal' for Jonelle Richards

00:05, Jul 05 2012
Jonelle Richards
LONDON BOUND: Jonelle Richards rides Flintstar during the cross country phase of the Burghley Horse Trials in England.

Olympic newbie Jonelle Richards will have a chance to let her selection for London sink in as she sits out the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, this weekend.

The five-strong New Zealand Olympic eventing team, named on Tuesday, will use the popular three-star event as their final competitive hit-out before the July 28-31 Olympic event.

But Richards will be a spectator only following a "minor injury" at home last week. She has travelled with the team but Mark Todd will ride her horse, Flintstar, at Aachen.

"It's probably fine, but the sensible thing to do is give it a few more days so Mark will ride him and it's business as usual for me from Monday," she said.

The 31-year-old from Motueka, who moved to the United Kingdom in 2003 with her fiance, fellow Kiwi eventer Tim Price, was yesterday still coming to terms with Olympic selection.

"It's bizarre. As a child I used to get up at all hours and watch the Olympics and see Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson ride around. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd be on a team with them.


"Obviously horses have been my life for a long time now and this is the ultimate goal. I came pretty close at Athens in 2004 (non-travelling reserve).

"I'm really excited, a little bit speechless for a while which doesn't happen very often but it's starting to sink in. It's a very surreal feeling."

Richards made her senior New Zealand debut only last year, at Aachen.

World No2 Nicholson, a two-times Olympic medallist in the teams event, is the only New Zealander who will ride their No1 horse.

"We decided at the start of the year we'd use Aachen as our last competition, it's a big team event too so we thought it'd be a good way to come together, especially with the likes of Jonelle coming into the team for the first time," he said.

After Aachen, the team comes together about 10 days out from the Olympics, for a three-day training camp in Surrey.

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