Rio relief for Brougham
A wave of relief swept Julie Brougham when she was told her Olympic dream was set to be a reality.
She found out one week ago, but was only able to reveal the news to others on Monday night when Equestrian New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee made their official announcement.
Palmerston North’s Brougham becomes just the third Kiwi to compete in dressage at the Olympics, following Kallista Field (Sydney, 2000) and Louisa Hill (Athens, 2004 and London, 2012).
Brougham, who rides mount Vom Feinsten, has devoted the year to getting New Zealand’s sole dressage spot at Rio. That included gambling on herself and booking a trip to Germany as final preparation before she had qualified.
She qualified at the Horse of the Year in March, her final event in New Zealand before she travelled to Germany, breaking an Australasian record in the process.
But by the time she linked up with German dressage legend Ton de Ridder, who has been helping her train for the past four months, Hamilton’s John Thompson had also qualified.
That meant the duo were left to battle it out, Brougham competing in Europe and Thompson in Australia.
But Brougham was always the heavy favourite.
Her results in events in Germany, Slovenia and Austria highlighted her position as the frontrunner.
Speaking from the equestrian team announcement in England, Brougham said she was pleased to be confirmed in the team.
‘‘I am excited, but also just really relieved,’’ she said. ‘‘It has been a big mission to bring Vom Feinsten to Europe and compete over here when you haven’t got the support network you have at home and haven’t even got a horse truck.
‘‘It is nice to know that the grand plan worked.’’
Brougham will ride 12-yearold gelding Vom Feinsten, who she imported from Germany in 2009.
She said their results over the last year prove that he is up to the task of competing at the Olympics.
‘‘He has done well over here and he has shown that he is competitive and potentially can even do better,’’ she said.
‘‘He has shown that he travels very well. That is important because you don’t want to be taking a horse to the Rio Olympics unless they are sound in wind and limb.’’
Brougham was joined in Germany by her New Zealandbased coach Andrea Raves this week and husband David Brougham will join them next week.
She has one last event planned in Germany, the Aachen Chio in July, but then will focus on keeping Vom Feinsten fresh.
Brougham said her goal for the Olympics was to claim a personal best.
‘‘I am very hopeful that we will get Steny there at his peak of health and his peak performance,’’ she said.
Brougham and Vom Feinsten head off to Rio through Liege in Belgium on August 2.
Her first event in Rio is on August 10.
Brougham was one of six riders named in the New Zealand equestrian team.
Mark Todd, Jock Paget, Jonelle Price and Clarke Johnstone were included in the threeday eventing team. Tim Price is the team’s travelling reserve.
Todd, 60, will become New Zealand’s oldest Olympian. He is set to attend his eighth Olympics and has five Olympic medals to his name.
The oldest Kiwi Olympian was William Edgar Swinnerton, who was 56 when he competed in the sailing at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, coincidentally the year Todd was born.
Julie Brougham and Vom Feinsten qualified for the Rio Olympics by breaking an Australasian record at the Horse of the Year in March.