Jock Paget a step closer to equestrian return
Jock Paget and Clifton Promise are a step closer to completing their comeback from a doping suspension.
Paget and his champion horse have been included as part of a four-strong New Zealand three-day eventing team for the World Equestrian Games in France in August.
The pair had been sidelined since October last year when it was revealed Promise had tested positive for a banned sedative after they had won the Burghley Horse Trials in England.
The horse has served its time and Paget's provisional suspension was this month lifted by the world equestrian federation pending the announcement of its final decision, following a two-day hearing in London three weeks ago.
Paget is not out of the woods yet but the lifting of the provisional suspenstion, plus being named on New Zealand's team for the event he desperately wanted to compete in this year, suggests the end of his nightmare could be nigh.
The New Zealand team essentially selected itself.
Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd were always going to be included, as was Paget, if available, while Tim Price forced the selectors' hands for the fourth and final spot after an impressive top-10 at Badminton last month followed by a stunning win at the Luhmuhlen four-star event in Germany earlier this month.
Each of the four can claim at least one four-star win - the highest level of eventing competition - in the past three years, with Nicholson in fact boasting five.
Only Price was not on the London Olympics bronze medal-winning team; he takes the place of his wife Jonelle (nee Richards) who was on the London team but is a reserve for France.
Caroline Powell is the other member of the Olympic team who has missed the cut for the WEG team, but she will ride as an individual.
Nicholson has been named on either Nereo or Avebury, his top two horses, Todd on Leonidas, Price on Wesko, and Paget on Promise.
Nicholson has ridden in all six World Equestrian Games, with his best individual result a bronze in Kentucky in 2010, when New Zealand also won a team bronze.
He and Todd, who has ridden at four WEGs, were in the gold medal-winning team in 1990 in Stockholm.
Todd was also in the team to take gold in 1998 in Rome.
It will be the second time Paget has ridden at WEG but his first in the team.
Also named are individual riders Powell aboard Onwards and Upwards and Lucy Jackson on Willy Do.
The reserves are Jonelle Price on Classic Moet, Tim Price on Ringwood Sky Boy and Megan Heath on her own St Daniel.
"Everyone has worked very hard to reach the high targets we have set as a team, and that includes the riders, the trainers, all of the support team and the selectors," Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance eventing coach Erik Duvander said.
"Every rider has his or her own programme that has been tailored to their needs to make sure they peak for the games.
"The goal is team gold. We are going out to win. If you are riding to win, you have to stick your neck out and that increases the risk, so we are looking forward to very exciting days in Normandy."
New Zealand has already named vaulting and endurance teams for WEG, with the possibility of para-equestrian and showjumping representatives as well.