Tim Price, and Vitali, produced an excellent showing in their dressage test to have New Zealand in good shape in Tokyo.
Top-ranked New Zealand equestrian, Tim Price, has come up trumps to ensure the New Zealand eventing team sit well-placed at the completion of the dressage phase at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 42-year-old world No 2 produced a superb showing aboard Vitali in Saturdays third and final dressage session, with his score of 25.60 penalty points seeing him in fifth place in the field of 62 (one fewer than the original start list after the withdrawal of an Austrian rider) and having New Zealand in third spot in the team standings.
Price is at his second Olympics, after being an 11th-hour callup from the reserve spot five years ago, and is again riding alongside wife Jonelle Price in an all-England-based Kiwi team which is out for revenge after a disappointing slip to fourth place in Rio.
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Jonelle Price and the Kiwi eventers are out to atone for disappointment in Rio.
New Zealand has a rich eventing history, with all 10 of the countrys Olympic equestrian medals, dating back to 1984, coming in that discipline. However, a first-ever gold is still being hunted in the team event (one silver, three bronze), which is run concurrently with the individual competition.
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This is the first time since 2004, and just the second since 1984, that the Kiwis are riding without the legendary Sir Mark Todd, and its the Prices who are now flying the flag, in conjunction with Olympic debutant Jesse Campbell.
With Jonelle Price the world No 7 and competing in her third Games, its 31-year-old newbie Campbell who looms as very much the key member, if New Zealand are to taste success as a unit in Tokyo.
They're amazing. I think everyone knows what a fantastic team they are. And it's a real honour to be here with them, sort of being taken under the wing by them, Campbell said following an encouraging first-up effort during the second dressage session on Friday night.
The world No 97, and horse Diachello, showed no signs of big-stage nerves, putting on a composed performance as the rain tumbled, in what is a new and shorter Olympic dressage test, of just under four minutes per rider.
Campbell cut a quite chuffed figure at the end of his test, though his face quickly turned to dismay when looking at the scoreboard. Turns out there were still scores coming in from the three judges.
In the end, his 30.10 was good enough to leave him in 15th place, which even slightly upstaged the 30.70 of Jonelle Price (on Grovine De Reve) in the first session, which has her in 17th.
I was on the whole really pleased, Campbell said. He's a horse who I think is going to just get better and better over the next few years.
Jesse Campbell, riding Diachello, produced an encouraging Olympic debut.
He's got a huge walk. And I know it's very difficult to get a medium walk out of him, and to keep them sort of really connected. So I think I dropped a mark there, and definitely on my last change, got a little rush of blood to the head. I thought, 'I'm nearly home.'
It's a very, very difficult test in terms of, if you make a little mistake, to then try and get those scores back. It just comes at you so fast, and you've got no time to rebuild your score if you make a mistake. And I made a few little boo-boos, but on the whole [Im pleased].
Great Britain lead the team standings, on 78.30, after world No 1 Oliver Townend, the second rider up, led almost the entire way, with his 23.60.
That was only knocked off by the penultimate rider in the field, with two-time reigning Olympic champion Michael Jung producing a sublime 21.10, which, with the help of fourth-placed team-mate Julia Krajewski (25.20), has Germany the Rio silver medallists in second place on 80.40.
New Zealand are exactly six points back, on 86.40, but still with a handy buffer over fourth-placed Japan (90.10).
The cross-country round follows on Sunday, before the jumping (team final and individual qualifier, then individual final) on Monday.
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