Tim Price and Falco. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

New Zealand will be represented in eventing and dressage at this month’s Paris Olympic Games. It’s a well-seasoned eventing team that will represent the nation, spear-headed by former world no.1 and 2, Tim and Jonelle Price, who are joined by Clarke Johnstone, and Caroline Powell as the alternate.

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).

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 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.”

Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera, who will be her direct reserve horse for Paris. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

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.”

Jonelle says the mare is right up her street. “She has been nothing but magic since we bought her and gone from strength to strength. We are very well suited – she is gutsy, determined, feisty and strong-willed. We are a match made in heaven!”

World no.9 ranked Tim made his Olympic debut at Rio and also rode at Tokyo. 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.”

Clarke Johnstone and Menlo Park. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

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. Clarke is from Outram but is also based in the UK and lining up at his second Games after also debuting at Rio where his sixth individual placing was the best of the New Zealand riders. He will compete aboard the 14-year-old British sport horse Menlo Park who he says feels like he is peaking at the perfect time for Paris.

Caroline Powell and Greenacres Special Cavalier. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

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

Caroline is excited to be back in the Olympic environment. “What an honour to represent my country again,” she said. “I can’t wait for the Games. It’s always a very special time.” Greenacres Special Cavalier is an 11-year-old Irish sport horse mare who Caroline has long believed in and carefully brought her through the grades. She and Lenamore won Burghley 5* in 2010, the same year she was part of the bronze medal winning team at the World Championships at Kentucky.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance general manager Jock Paget, himself a team bronze medal winner from the London 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.

Jock also praised the efforts of Melissa Galloway, who will represent New Zealand in dressage competition. “Melissa has been very targeted and dedicated throughout this campaign and I look forward to seeing her take the stage at her first Olympics.”

ESNZ chief executive Julian Bowden said it was exciting to have the team announced. “We know how tough the eventing competition will be this year but we have great experience in there and know they will give everything to get onto the podium,” he said. “It is fantastic to see all of Melissa’s hard work and dedication pay off with her selection. She’s no stranger to the big stage and I know we will all be cheering her on.”

NZOC chief executive Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes. “We’re thrilled to have a strong and experienced equestrian team named for the Games,” said Nicki. “New Zealand has a proud equestrian history at the Games and we look forward to cheering these athletes on as they wear the fern and make us proud in Paris.”

The eventing competition at Paris 2024 begins on July 27 and the dressage on July 30, with competition to be held in the ground of the beautiful Chateau de Versailles.

To keep up with EN’s running track of teams and individuals named thus far, click here.

View more of EN’s coverage of the Paris Olympics here. We are pleased to bring you our Olympic coverage with support from Kentucky Performance Products.


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