A three-day eventing gold is realistic at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to New Zealand equestrian team manager Sarah Harris.
That's because everyone will be in the same boat - well, the same plane, explained the Bulls woman when she returned from London yesterday.
This time the European teams, especially the British, were virtually on home territory, but in 2016 all teams will have to fly to Brazil.
"It will be a whole different ball game," she said.
"A gold is definitely achievable at Rio. We believe we have the right type of horse, the New Zealand thoroughbred."
Harris is Equestrian New Zealand's high performance director and said the decision made 18 months ago to base New Zealand's best eventers in England paid off with the bronze medal.
Had the Kiwis flown their horses in late, there was the risk of travel sickness. That happened with dressage rider Louisa Hill's mount, Antonello, which arrived in Germany with two months to spare.
The horse picked up a bronchial infection and hadn't recovered by the Olympics. They made three expensive errors and that plunged them to 23rd from the 25 in her group.
But as Harris pointed out, the Kiwi eventers excelled by having all five riders jump clear on the crosscountry phase.
"We just needed to get a medal," she said. "Olympic medals are very hard to win."
The Kiwis hadn't won a medal in team eventing since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
She said Mark Todd's horse Campino, only a 9-year-old, was tired when it came to the showjumping. The riders will be encouraged to stay in England because that is where the best competition is.
Harris is still baffled by the organisers' decision to hold up Andrew Nicholson before his dressage test. She was told it was because of a thunderstorm overhead.
But as she said, the spectators were in more danger than a solitary horse because they were on temporary seating held up by scaffolding. The spectators weren't evacuated.
"It was really unfortunate. I don't ever remember an event being put on hold for rain before.
"They didn't evacuate the stands."
Equestrian NZ will file a formal complaint, but that's as far as it will go.
"We believe the ground jury, three judges, made the wrong decision."
At the time, Harris wasn't permitted to protest during the competition. She had to wait until the end of the day.
"We had a talk to the stewards and they believed they made the right decision."
Harris hopes New Zealand might have three dressage riders at Rio, possibly including Ashhurst's Penny Castle.
Showjumper Katie McVean might have been at London but she sold her best horse, Delphi, to the Saudis.
"It is very tough, the dressage and the showjumping."
Harris loved the Olympics and said London was quiet with so many people having left the city while they were on.
- © Fairfax NZ News