Homeward bound: New career brings eventer Jock Paget back to NZ

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Jonathan Paget is leading the field on Clifton Promise.
Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise. © Mike Bain

One of the country’s most popular eventing riders is returning to New Zealand to start a new career as an equestrian coach.

Jonathan “Jock” Paget, 32, is moving back to New Zealand later this year with his wife, Tegan, and the couple plan to live in the central North Island, near Taupo. Paget is aiming to further his career with the ESNZ performance coaching programme.

Jonathan "Jock" Paget
Jonathan “Jock” Paget

Paget will take up the new high performance development coaching role in February. He will work alongside other eventing performance programme coaches Penny Castle, Clarke Johnstone, Tracy Smith and Jeff McVean.

It isn’t the end of Paget’s career as a rider; he still has his sights on making the New Zealand team for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Coaching is something I really enjoy doing,” said Paget, who has been based in the UK since 2010. “I want to become a world-class coach and I believe this is the programme to do that in. It is very exciting.”

Paget said it made sense to be based near Taupo, with the National Equestrian Centre close by. “There is a lot of exciting development going on, including the brand new world-class indoor arena which will be ready in March. I think it is the place to be.”

Tegan is particularly excited as it puts them closer to their Australian families.

Joining them on the big move will be Angus Blue whom Paget really rates as a future superstar, and the retired Clifton Promise who will get pride of place in a paddock right near their new home.

Promise’s move back to New Zealand has the blessing of his owner Frances Stead.

Angus Blue is owned by Joe Giannamore, who is also backing Paget’s move to New Zealand. Kiwi eventer James Avery will become Giannamore’s UK stable rider.

“Angus Blue is Joe’s best horse, and we have a lot of goals to achieve on the competitive side of things. I have been with Joe for seven years and he is very proud that I am always looking around the corner and planning for the future. I go to him for a lot of advice,” Paget said.

New Zealand's Jonathan Paget was fifth on Angus Blue in the CCI2*.
Jonathan Paget and Angus Blue, pictured at the CCI2* Camphire International Horse Trials in Ireland last July. © Radka Preislerova

“Angus Blue is a very good horse who did his first CCI3* in September. I have every intention of still targeting the major events throughout the world but just with a smaller team.”

Both the 2018 World Equestrian Games and Tokyo Olympics remain firmly on his radar, however he will operate in quite a different way to how he has when in the UK.

“To do both my riding and coaching properly, I won’t be able to have the same size team I have done, so I will now only have ones I think are going to be world-beaters.”

The bronze medal-winning London Olympian is thankful for the support he has received from his owners and sponsors around his change in direction.

ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout said having Paget on board was a great development for the country’s eventing programme and an invaluable opportunity for New Zealand riders.

“Having Jock here competing too is also exciting for the domestic competition scene,” she said. “We will now have two of our Olympic campaigners in Clarke and Jock competing and coaching nationally. I hope this will further encourage more spectators to attend and support our events in New Zealand.”

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