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Paris on Pottinger’s radar

EQUESTRIAN

[email protected] The Paris Olympics are on the radar for Wairarapa equestrian Amanda Pottinger after her breakthrough year in the three-day event.

Pottinger is back in New Zealand from her English base for a brief visit and to run some equestrian clinics after an outstanding northern hemisphere season, which saw her compete in her first Badminton Horse Trials and World Championships.

The 30-year-old and her mount ‘Just Kidding’ finished an encouraging 35th at Badminton, with the highlight being an impressive eighth in the opening dressage phase.

Pottinger’s form there and at a world championship test event was good enough to earn selection to represent New Zealand for the first time at the FEI World Eventing Championships at Petroni, Italy. There she finished 35th in the individual championship after being omitted from the four-person team.

Although Pottinger would have liked a higher finish, she said there were a number of factors that impacted her performance on ‘Just Kidding’.

“Where I was most disappointed personally in my performance was the first day and the dressage, and I was quite far off where my personal best is, so that is the one area where I felt we could have done a bit better, but otherwise the other two stages [cross-country and showjumping] were what was to be expected,” Pottinger said.

“That’s the challenge of our sport that you have to get three phases right for one event, not just one day one competition, and that’s the challenge, and it takes years to master it.

“It wasn’t anyone’s fault. There was a bit of uncertainty about when my dressage was going to be, so that didn’t allow me to best prepare like I was able to do at Badminton, but that is part of the sport and is part of being the individual for the team. You’ve got to be ready to step in if needed, so that’s what we did. In hindsight, it likely limited my personal performance, but at the end of the day, the team comes first, so I was happy to do that.”

Pottinger said she didn’t realise the scale of putting on the silver fern until after the world championships were over.

“When you first get named, to me, it was maybe a little bit of surprise, and then it’s just all focus on how we’re going to get there in the best possible form to put our best foot forward, so the actual pressure and overwhelmingness of wearing the silver fern don’t come into play until afterwards when you look back and say wow that was pretty cool.”

New Zealand won the bronze medal in the teams’ event, earning qualification for the 2024 Olympics. Selection for Paris is sure to be hotly contested with 12 riders vying for three places, effectively one, with world number one and two, husband and Tim and Jonelle Price virtual certainties.

“Paris is very much the aim. It’s only 18 months away now, which is quite scary, but you’ve got to aim big and just keep pushing forward and see what happens. It’s a lot tougher; at the Olympics, there are only three horses and riders that compete, and then you take a travelling reserve that does not compete unless something happens.”

If all goes well on her return to England in January, Pottinger is keen to have another crack at Badminton or a five-star event at Luhmuhlen, Germany, with ‘Just Kidding’. She is also targeting the Millstreet three-day event with her up-and-coming mount ‘Good Timing’ and will aim both horses at a five-star event in Pau, France, at the end of the year to give herself the best opportunity to push for an Olympic spot.

Should Pottinger earn selection for Paris, she would follow in the footsteps of her mother, Tinks, who won a bronze medal in the teams’ event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She said her mother is still widely talked about in Europe.

“I probably didn’t realise it so much in earlier years, but when you go over to England, it’s mindblowing how many people remember her and how many people will say “are you Tinks’s daughter” which, as much as I get sick of hearing that it’s actually really refreshing over the other side of the world when you don’t know people and don’t have friends and family over there. She comes over to watch and catch up with her old mates, and that always brings back a lot of memories for her.”

Pottinger has been running a series of clinics for keen young riders on her brief visit home, including one at Clareville last Tuesday. She will return to her English base at Cirencester in the Cotswolds in late January to prepare for the northern equestrian season.

If all goes well on her return to England in January, Pottinger is keen to have another crack at Badminton or a five-star event at Luhmuhlen, Germany, with ‘Just Kidding’. She is also targeting the Millstreet three-day event with her up-and-coming mount ‘Good Timing’ and will aim both horses at a five-star event in Pau, France, at the end of the year to give herself the best opportunity to push for an Olympic spot.

Should Pottinger earn selection for Paris, she would follow in the footsteps of her mother, Tinks, who won a bronze medal in the teams event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She said her mother was still widely talked about in Europe.

“I probably didn’t realise it so much in earlier years, but when you go over to England, it’s mindblowing how many people remember her and how many people ask “are you Tinks’s daughter?” which, as much as I get sick of hearing that, is refreshing over the other side of the world when you don’t know people and don’t have friends and family there. She comes over to watch and catch up with her old mates, and that always brings back a lot of memories for her.”

Pottinger has been running a series of clinics for keen young riders on her brief visit home, including one at Clareville last Tuesday. She will return to her English base at Cirencester in the Cotswolds in late January to prepare for the northern equestrian season.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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