Four members of Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s Hall of fame – Sir Mark Todd KNZM CBE, Andrew Nicholson ONZM, Blyth Tait and Vaughn Jefferis – are some of New Zealand’s most well-known and decorated Equestrians. But who are they and how did they help to put New Zealand Equestrian on the world stage?
Sir Mark Todd, who was knighted by Prince Charles in 2013, is the most well-known of the quartet holding numerous national and international honours in the Equestrian community.
Todd burst onto the world stage when he won Gold in his first-ever Olympic games competition in 1984 riding on Charisma. Four years later he achieved the same feat on the same horse putting his name down as one of New Zealand’s greatest.
But this was just the beginning.
Over Todd’s long career he won nine CCI4 titles and five Olympic medals plus numerous Badminton Horse Trials, Burghley Horse Trials and World Championships. After winning his fifth Olympic medal in 2012 in London, Todd equalled the world record for longest gap between Olympic medals of 28 years and he shares the title for most Olympic medals won by a Kiwi.
Todd is the winner of the Supreme Halberg Award, a member of the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.
Andrew Nicholson, a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and former world number one, holds a slew of world titles and medals which include nine CCI4 crowns, a gold medal at the 1990 World Equestrian Games and Silver and Bronze Olympic Medals in 1992 and 1996.
Nicholson has been selected for seven Olympics in his career, competing at six, and won but his best results have been at Burghley where he won in 1995, 2000 and then completed the hattrick in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Nicholson also took the title at Pau in 2012 with his Olympic mount Nereo, Kentucky in 2013 on four-star debutant Quimbo & Lumuhlen in 2013 on Mr Cruise Control. Nicholson’s most recent win came in 2017 at the Badminton Horse Trials with Nereo.
Blythe Tait may have only competed in four Olympic Games but his medal tally of four puts him at the top of Kiwi Olympians being only one of four Kiwis to do this.
Tait won the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Lonsdale Cup in 2001 and in doing so became the first equestrian to win the award. With three CCI4 titles, an induction into the Member of the Order of the British Empire and four Wolrd Equestrian Games golds, Tait has well and truly established his name is New Zealand Equestrian history.
The final rider, Vaughn Jefferis, has one Olympic Bronze and two World Championship titles – all on the horse Bounce – who also won European Eventing Horse of the Year in 1998
On the riders, Equestrian Sports New Zealand president Richard Sunderland has 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.”
While New Zealand’s golden era is well and truly over Kiwis will be looking to 2021’s Olympic team to produce upsets and return some of the silverware to the land down under.
The experienced Kiwi side which includes Olympian Bruce Goodin, Helena Stormanns, Samantha McIntosh, Tom Tarver-Priebe and Daniel Meec may well be worth a punt at any horse betting site after their triumph at Valkenswaard in The Netherlands in 2019.