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Price aims high despite setback

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/04/2016

Injury has sidelined Tim Price's top mount for the Kentucky three-day event in Lexington, but the Kiwi rider is still aiming high.

Price finished second on Wesko behind Germany's Michael Jung at the four-star event last year, but the Dutch-bred 14-year-old sustained a soft-tissue injury last month and has been ruled out out of Olympic contention.

Price will instead start 10-year-old Bango, who finished 15th at Luhmuhlen last year in his first four-star start.

"Bango is a serious contender for the big events," Price said.

"Every year he comes of age a little more and I have always deemed him to be a successful four-star horse.

"He hasn't been winning everything all the way up through the grades, but he is a top quality horse and it's just a matter of time before he starts being completely established at this level."

Price is looking forward to challenging Jung at Lexington.

"I gained a lot of confidence last year with Wesko at Kentucky and Ringwood Sky Boy at Burghley giving Michael a run for his money.

"Even though he'is an incredible performer, he is beatable."

New Zealand is sending a five-strong contingent to Lexington, spear-headed by former winner Blyth Tait, who is back for the first time since 2000 when he won aboard Welton Envy.

This time he takes Xanthus III, his 14-year-old bay gelding who was second at the three-star Olympic qualifier at Boekelo last year.

Sir Mark Todd's NZB Campino will be tackling his first start at Kentucky, while Jock Paget's Clifton Signature will be starting in just his second four-star event.

US-based Joe Meyer will start aboard Clip Clop in the horse's first Kentucky start to complete the Kiwi contingent.

Equestrian Sports NZ high performance eventing leader Erik Duvander is looking expecting a good showing at Kentucky this year.

"It's a good test for those who are competing on surfaces similar to the Olympics and a stadium for dressage and showjumping, so more of a championship feel," he said.

"That cross country is a proper four-star course by a designer who builds in a horse-friendly style. It's a great place for horses to develop and learn."

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