By Emily Goddard

Andrew Nicholson 050213February 9 - New Zealand has named its new high performance eventing squad as it starts preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with world number rider and Andrew Nicholson and double Olympic gold medallist Mark Todd leading the charge.

Both Nicholson (pictured top) and Todd, who were part the London 2012 bronze medal winning eventing team, will be bidding for their seventh Olympics, and Nicholson has been selected with six of his horses, while Todd, who will be 60 at the time of the Games in three years' time, and number four ranked Jonathan Paget have three each.

The remaining members of New Zealand's London 2012 Olympic bronze medal winning team members, Caroline Powell and Jonelle Richards, World Championship rider Clarke Johnstone and London Olympic reserve Lucy Jackson complete the squad.

Powell's double Olympic horse Lenamore is not on the squad, however, as selectors are not considering him for Rio, but the 20-year-old is likely to compete at Badminton this year.

Sarah Harris, Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director, explained that only those athletes who have the potential to produce an individual podium result at the Rio Olympics have been selected.

The announcement comes after the sport was granted the largest increase of any sport in the country at the High Performance Sport New Zealand funding round late last year after its bronze medal performance at the London 2012.

It will receive $1.8 million (£1.1 million/€1.3 million) per year for the next four years leading up to Rio; a total of $7.2 million (£4.6 million/€5.3 million) compared to $3.2 million (£2.1 million/€2.4 million) in the previous four-year cycle.

LR Caroline Powell Jonathan Paget Mark Todd Andrew Nicholson and Jonelle Richards pose with their medals after winning bronze in the eventing team jumping final at London 2012Caroline Powell, Jonathan Paget, Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson and Jonelle Richards pose with their medals after winning bronze in the eventing team event at London 2012

"The squads reflect a realignment of our programme through to Rio," Harris said.

"We want to be continually pushing to be better with a world-leading programme.

"We are recognised as such, but we are always looking to improve anything that leads to better results."

Meanwhile, four promising newcomers, Jesse Campbell, Joe Waldron, Lizzie Brown and Tim Price, have been named in a high performance accelerator squad.

Harris highlighted the importance of the accelerator programme for the future of eventing.

"People will be added to that to ensure sustainability over time," she explained.

"We need to be identifying young talent - whether that be rider or horse - and working with them to accelerate their performances so they have the ability to impact at Rio."

Both squads have an open door policy and can be changed at any time.

"It's great to have such depth of good horsepower," Harris added.

"Lining up for London, we were a bit thin on the ground for second and third horses, but by Rio we are going to be really well placed.

"This is an exciting time for New Zealand equestrian."

The international eventing season gets underway in April with the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, followed by the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

The World Equestrian Games in France in 2014 will be the first major event.

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