Kiwi showjumping pioneers, famous eventer Charisma honoured

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New Zealand's showjumping team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
New Zealand’s showjumping team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, from left, Graeme Hansen with Saba Sam, Bruce Hansen with Tide, Charlie Matthews with Syndicate and Adrian White with Eldorado.

New Zealand’s first equestrian Olympic team and double Olympic gold medal-winning eventer Charisma have been inducted into the country’s Equestrian Sports Hall of Fame.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympic jumping team, comprising the late Bruce and Graeme Hansen (Gisborne), along with Adrian White (Hawke’s Bay) and Charlie Matthews (Gisborne) were inducted along with Sir Mark Todd’s Charisma at a ceremony during the Horse of the Year Show in Hawke’s Bay at the weekend.

White was the only rider at the celebration while families of the Hansens and Charlie attended. Matthews, who now lives in Australia, was unable to attend.

The team sailed to Tokyo, with the horses stabled on deck beside a rather pungent pallet of garlic. Bruce Hansen captained the team, which finished in 10th place. At the end of the Games, Syndicate and Eldorado were sold while Tide and Saba Sam returned to New Zealand. When they competed at the Wairoa Show on their return, the whole district was said to have turned out to watch them. Graeme Hansen was the driver behind the Teams’ Competition which is held annually at the Horse of the Year Show with the coveted Saba Sam Shield up for grabs.

Mark Todd and Charisma winning Olympic gold at Seoul in 1988, following their success at Los Angeles in 1984.
Mark Todd and Charisma winning Olympic gold at Seoul in 1988, following their success at Los Angeles in 1984. © FEI

Charisma and Todd won back-to-back individual gold medals at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) and endeared themselves to the nation. Charisma competed to B Grade showjumping level and Prix St George dressage.

Todd said he was a brilliant cross country horse: “he was very bold, scopey, fast and nippy – all in all, the perfect combination”.

Charisma, who was 15.3hh, was also second at Badminton, won Luhmuhlen and twice claimed the British Open Championship as well as a second at Burghley. He retired back to New Zealand at 16 and died in 2002 at Todd’s Cambridge property.

Tim Price and Ascona M on the cross-country at the Luhmühlen Horse Trials.
Tim Price and Ascona M on the CCI5*-L cross-country at the 2019 Luhmühlen Horse Trials. © Luhmühlen Horse Trials
Tim Price named Rider of the Year

UK-based Olympic eventer Tim Price was named Rider of the Year crown, and also won as part of the Team of the Year with Sir Mark Todd and Jonelle Price. The trio won the Nations’ Cup class at the Camphire International Horse Trials in Ireland in July.

The Horse of the Year award went jointly to Tim Price’s Ascona M, and showjumper Windermere Cappuccino, who is ridden by West Melton’s Tegan Fitzsimon.

Price’s 12-year-old holsteiner mare Ascona M won the CCI5*-L at the Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany last June, and the 4* contest at Tattersalls in Ireland in May.

Rising 10-year-old warmblood gelding Windermere Cappuccino successfully defended his FEI World Cup NZ League Series title alongside his National Showjumping crown this year, continuing a stellar career that has seen him win all the age group series through his career as well as the Horse Grand Prix and Premier Grand Prix series.

Jumping stalwart Audrey Cameron was presented the Pilmer Plate for her lifetime of involvement with the sport. The FEI Level 3 judge and FEI Level 2 steward hails from Tauranga and is one of the nation’s highest-ranked and most popular officials.

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