According to a report on Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s website, recently-appointed high performance eventing manager Canadian Graeme Thom has been forced to resign following the severe flare-up of an old back injury and doctor’s advice warning that extensive travel is not recommended.

“It is a huge disappointment to me,” Thom told ESNZ. “I don’t wish to put the New Zealand team at risk through me being unable to do my duties at a critical juncture on the road to the 2018 World Equestrian Games.”

Thom had thought his back injury was under control following a spinal operation in December 2015. “I felt reassured that I was free and clear of any revision.”

Thom admitted he was saddened by the effect his resignation may have on athletes, owners and support personnel. “ESNZ has created a pathway to excellence from New Zealand to Europe and the rest of the world,” he said. “Incredible athletes, dedicated owners, highly-qualified coaches and best-of-breed support personnel. This would not be possible without the unparalleled support of High Performance Sport New Zealand. No one could have asked or wanted for a better opportunity than I.”

“I am sorry I will not be able to fulfil my duties and obligations. That said, it is with unbiased empirical analysis, mixed with some hands-on subjective expertise that I am certain medals will be forthcoming in 2018 . . . that’s where my money is.”

ESNZ will begin searching immediately for a new high performance eventing manager. Thom will stay on to wrap up administrative duties and will continue to help the team as much as possible in North America in its run-up to WEG.