NICKY RONCORONI lines up for Team GB at the 2014 FEI Nations Cup in Ireland this week but insists she is playing the long game.
Roncoroni was one of the heroines of Britain's successful season-long Nations Cup campaign last year, forcing the GB challenge back on track with her spectacular individual win at Montelibretti in Italy in September – the springboard for our overall win in the series which was clinched at Boekelo in the Netherlands a month later.
However, her No.1 horse, Trig Point, is being rested this year after suffering a minor setback which gives Nicky the chance to bring on two other promising younger horses in her Kemble-based squad – Stonedge, owned by her mother Janey and Watts Burn, both of whom she rates as having Olympic potential.
It is the 10-year-old Stonedge that she will partner this week in Ballindenisk, the scene of one of Trig Point's finest wins in a CIC*** two years ago.
"Trig Point is 12 but will be back next year and I'm sure he would like me to say he is still top of the pile – but the other two have great potential," said Nicky.
"Stonedge is the little upstart who is gaining fast. His main target this year is the three-star at Bramham in June, but I have the European Championships in 2015 and the Rio Olympics the following year in mind for all three.
"Trig Point and Stonedge are both equally talented," insists Nicky. "Trig Point has the biggest heart and tries so hard, while everything comes so easily for Stonedge, although he does test my patience and is very high maintenance."
Ballindenisk hosts the second leg of the Nations Cup series (April 10-14) and after the first leg of the competition in Fontainebleau last month Britain are in a very close third place behind leaders France and second-placed Netherlands.
Roncoroni, 34, is joined on the team which is supported by the UK Sport lottery funded World Class Programme, by Ros Canter (Zenshera), Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) and Lucy Wiegersma (Mr Chunky).
Team GB manager Philip Surl said: “We have an exciting mix of new and established riders on the team for Ballindenisk who are on a selection of very promising looking horses.”
Nicky is in her third season at Kemble after moving South from Hawick in the Scottish Borders.
She represented Scotland at junior level and GB at Young Rider level on home-produced horses, winning an individual European bronze in 1998 in Waregem and a team silver in 1999 with Malachy Stone at Necarne Castle.
"My heart is in Scotland but the move was necessary for my business," said Nicky. "In addition to competing 14 horses from my yard, I bring on young horses for sale.
"It was difficult to get potential buyers to travel to Scotland to perhaps look over one horse when they could go to Ireland and see half a dozen, and the distances we travelled to compete were prohibitive.
"We are also now much more accessible for the Team GB selectors.
"It is a big team effort here. I have two full-time girls and some part-timers and my mother comes down from Scotland for the summer."
Nicky's success is by no means unique in her very sporty family.
She added: "My uncle (David Sole) captained Scotland to their rugby grand slam victory in 1990 and his children Gemma (netball) and Chris (U19 cricket) are both internationals for Scotland."