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Hall of Fame: Honouring NZ's greatest equestrians

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Some of New Zealand’s greatest ever riders have tonight been honoured at the inaugural Equestrian Sports New Zealand Hall of Fame.

Sir Mark Todd KNZM CBE, Andrew Nicholson ONZM, Blyth Tait and Vaughn Jefferis were inducted into the Hall of Fame before hundreds at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show in Hastings. Back-to-back CCI4- winner Jonelle Price was awarded Rider of the Year and her gutsy black mare Classic Moet the Horse of the Year. New Zealand’s history-making Nations’ Cup showjumpers Sam McIntosh, Bruce Goodin, Richard Gardner and Daniel Meech won the Team of the Year while the perennial Tiny White OBE was awarded an honorary life membership to ESNZ.

Eventers Sir Mark, Andrew, Blyth and Vaughn are most certainly from New Zealand’s golden era. Between them they 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.

Sir Mark 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. Andrew has also won nine CCI4- crowns including a hattrick 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 37thstart - another record in itself.

Blyth Tait is the only equestrian to have won the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Lonsdale Cup 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 the delightful Bounce on whom he won medals at both Olympic and World Championship level and was also named European Eventing Horse of the Year.

ESNZ president Richard Sunderland said the new Hall of Fame marked a special time for New Zealand equestrian. "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."

Inductees were not just limited to riders, but in the future could include horses, officials, volunteers or others from the wider equestrian world - but having achieved at the highest level.

Jonelle Price was awarded the ESNZ Rider of the year having had a truly exceptional 2018, winning both Badminton and Luhmuhlen horse trials, earning her a finalist berth in the 56thHalberg Awards. She was the first New Zealand woman to win Badminton and one of a very select handful of Kiwis to have won more than two CCI4- titles.

Jonelle’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 Jonelle. The 16-year-old Brit-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.

The showjumpers who won the CSIO5- Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabiwere over the moon to be awarded the Team of the Year, with each extending thanks to their supporters who had helped them achieve such success on the international stage. Their win was the first time New Zealand has ever won a Nations’ Cup in showjumping.

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 also officiated as a judge both on and offshore among other achievements. She is the mother of eventing Olympic team bronze medal winner Tinks Pottinger and grandmother of Amanda Pottinger who is following in her mother’s footsteps.

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