New Zealand’s “dream team” of eventers from the 1980s and 1990s are the first inductees into the country’s newly created Equestrian Sports New Zealand Hall of Fame.
Eventing’s awesome foursome of Sir Mark Todd KNZM CBE, Andrew Nicholson ONZM, Blyth Tait and Vaughn Jefferis were inducted into the Hall of Fame and several other leading equestrians were honoured at Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s awards during the Horse of the Year Show in Hastings.
Between them, Todd, Nicholson, Tait and Jefferis have won five gold medals World Championships in both team and individual categories, along with individual and team bronze medals. They can also lay claim to three individual gold medals at Olympic Games.
ESNZ president Richard Sunderland said: “Our four inductees have achieved at the highest level and really put our country on the international map. It sets quite a standard going forwards.”
Sunderland said inductees were not just limited to riders, but in the future could include horses, officials, volunteers or others from the wider equestrian world who have achieved at the highest level.
Mark Todd is New Zealand’s most capped Olympian, having been selected for nine and ridden at eight – twice in both eventing and showjumping. He has won five medals but the most special and memorable for many New Zealanders were back-to-back individual golds aboard the mighty Charisma at Los Angeles and Seoul in 1984 and 1988 respectively. Throughout an illustrious career he has won nine CCI4* titles.
Andrew Nicholson is a former world number one who has been selected to represent New Zealand at seven Olympic Games and ridden at six, along with seven World Equestrian Games, winning a clutch of gold, silver and bronze medals from both. Nicholson has also won nine CCI4* crowns including a hat-trick from Burghley and three victories in one year. He came back from what could have been a career-ending neck injury after a fall at Gatcombe in 2015 to win again at 4* level with victory at Badminton in 2017, making him the oldest rider to have won the prestigious event and on his 37th start – another record in itself.
Blyth Tait is the only equestrian to have won the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Lonsdale Cup (awarded for outstanding contribution to an Olympic or Commonwealth sport) and one of just a handful of Kiwis to have won at least four medals at Olympic Games. Five times he has saddled up for New Zealand at World Equestrian Games with an impressive haul of four gold medals. He also has three CCI4* titles to his credit.
Vaughn Jefferis captured the heart of the nation with Bounce on whom he won medals at both Olympic and World Championship level and was also named European Eventing Horse of the Year. Jefferis was part of the Gold medal team at the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990, winning the world individual title in 1994 at The Hague, and team gold at the 1998 World Championships in Rome, and team bronze at the 1996 Olympics.
Team of the Year
New Zealand’s history-making Nations’ Cup showjumpers Sam McIntosh, Bruce Goodin, Richard Gardner and Daniel Meech were named ESNZ’s Team of the Year at the awards ceremony.
The team’s win in the CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi was the first time New Zealand has ever won a Nations’ Cup in showjumping. The four were thrilled with the award, with each extending thanks to their supporters who had helped them achieve such success on the international stage.
Horse and Rider of the Year
Back-to-back eventing CCI4* winner Jonelle Price was awarded Rider of the Year, and her gutsy black mare Classic Moet the Horse of the Year.
Price had an exceptional 2018, winning both Badminton and Luhmuhlen horse trials, earning her a finalist berth in the 56th Halberg Awards. She was the first New Zealand woman to win Badminton and one of only a handful of Kiwis to have won more than two CCI4* titles.
Price’s accolades continued as her 2018 Badminton winning horse Classic Moet was announced as the ESNZ Horse of the Year. Molly – as Classic Moet is known at home – is owned by Trisha Rickards and Prize. The 16-year-old British-bred horse is by Classic out of Gamston Bubbles, who is by Bohemond. She and Jonelle have been competing together since 2013 and were New Zealand’s best placed at the 2014 World Equestrian Games with their fourth individual placing. Their efforts in a hugely challenging cross-country earned them the tag of the “fastest girl in the world”. They also rode for New Zealand at the 2018 WEG in Tryon.
Tiny White OBE was presented with an honorary life membership to ESNZ. She is hugely accomplished as a rider, having won many of the nation’s top awards for dressage and officiated as a judge both on and offshore among other achievements. White is the mother of eventing Olympic team bronze medal winner Tinks Pottinger and grandmother of successful eventer Amanda Pottinger.
The Northern Hawke’s Bay Dressage Group was awarded the David Ross Memorial Award for outstanding volunteer service to the Horse of the Year Show while Dr Peter Jarvis from Canterbury received the Pilmer Plate – ESNZ’s volunteer lifetime award.