Paris Olympics: Kiwi equestrian riders primed to break 12-year podium drought

NZ Equestrian high performance manager Jock Paget insists the sport has a good shot at winning an Olympic medal this year.

Our last medal was a bronze for team eventing at the 2012 London Olympics, but that drought could soon be over. 

Since 1984, equestrian is one of New Zealand's most successful Olympic sports, with legends like Sir Mark Todd, Blyth Tait and Sally Clark bringing home medals.

Jonelle Price in action at Pau, France.
Jonelle Price in action at Pau, France. Photo credit: Photosport

Kiwi riders haven't stood on the podium for 12 years, but that could soon change. 

"In eventing, we'd be disappointed if we don't get a medal," Paget told Newshub. "We've worked really hard for it and we're up for it.

"We got a medal two years ago at the world championships and it's going to be pretty much the same field."

On that team was eventing royalty Tim and Jonelle Price. The couple are based in the UK, gearing up for a new season and a shot at the Olympics.

"In these early stages, it's just about getting horses out, hoping winter and off-season training pays off, and we can post some good results," Jonelle told Newshub.

All that while competing against each other.

"Ha ha, well certainly adds an interesting dynamic to the marriage, not going to lie," she said.

"It is very much a team effort. If I can't win, I'd love to see him."

"And vice versa... is that the right thing to say?" said Tim.

One of their likely opponents is Australian Shane Rose, a three-time Olympic medalist aiming for Paris. 

"The horse has been in great form and went really well last year," said Rose. "He's come back in really well. 

"He's an old horse now, he's 18, so he's really at the end of his career, but we've looked after him really well."

New Zealand celebrate their London 2012 bronze medal.
New Zealand celebrate their London 2012 bronze medal. Photo credit: Photosport

The eventer's been in the spotlight lately. After wearing a mankini to a fancy dress class last month, his Olympic dreams were put on hold, while he was stood down for two days.

"It's certainly given me a bit more notoriety, but hopefully that's in the past," he told Newshub. "It was a bit of fun."

Rose knows he faces a bit of battle against our team in July.

"The eventing team, they are medal contenders and they're in a good place," said Paget, who was part of that 2012 bronze-medal team. "We've got depth."

That six-strong NZ team won't be named until June.