Lisa Cubitt has been a part of the New Zealand showjumping scene for decades. Now a member of the ESNZ high performance squad, the UK-based mum-of-one is making waves.
She’s been consistently notching good results and clears in the big classes, including 1.55m Grand Prix, most recently on the Sunshine Tour and at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour Oliva Nova – both of which are in Spain.
There she and her team are regulars on the prize list in the big classes at CSI3* and CSI4* level, with lots of wins to her credit at 1.45m and now she’s looking to build on that in the higher grades. Just last month she and Warriors Glory placed second in a CSI4* 1.5m at Vejer de la Frontera and she’s got bigger things in her sights.
She with husband Sean and son Finn are based in East Sussex but her competition is mostly in Europe. “The yard is lovely,” says Lisa, who last year rode for New Zealand in a Nations Cup team. “We have about 30 horses in work at the moment between three riders and a bunch of ground staff.” It is predominantly a sale and competition barn, so everything is being produced for sale but their sponsor would love to retain a couple of horses for the top sport. “That’s super exciting. We are really fortunate.”
Lisa has eight horses and Kiwi grooms Natalie Rowles and Sarah Murray with her on the tour. “I like to change the horses around a bit each week, giving the new ones a chance to step up.” Being limited to just one horse in each big class means she has to plan and juggle.
Her big focus is targeting Longines FEI world ranking points and she is currently sitting in 733rd place – New Zealand’s third highest ranked rider behind Sharn Wordley and Sam McIntosh.
“I have had some solid results in ranking classes, picking up points at most shows,” says Lisa. It’s no mean feat either with generally 100 starters and 30-plus clear rounds the norm. “The standard is so consistently high here and we have been jumping at a lot of good shows and tours.”
She’s the first to admit it has been tough but at the same time “pretty surreal” to be jumping against her idols and even better, being competitive week in and week out. “The next goal for me is to develop the horsepower to be competitive in the Grand Prix classes too. I know that will take time.”
Uncas S is the horse she is on the HP Squad aboard. The 11-year-old chestnut stallion is her most experienced and together they’ve been jumping CSI3* Grand Prix (1.55m) since they teamed up in August. He was third in a CSI3* Grand Prix in Vilamoura (Portugal) and won the opening 1.45m Big Tour class in the first week of the Sunshine Tour. They recently jumped their first CSI4* Grand Prix. “He is very brave and we are gaining a lot of invaluable experience together.”
Also on the team is 10-year-old stallion Warriors Glory who has gone from strength to strength since joining the team in October. “He is very, very careful and jumps a lot of clear rounds. He has been very consistent in the 1.4-1.45m classes and just recently stepped up to our first 1.5m at a 4* show. She was over the moon to place second in the big class and they are now looking to start in the 3* Grand Prix (1.5m-1.55m) in the near future. “We are in no hurry to push him through too quickly though.”
Jack Van Het Dennehof arrived at the yard in December having previously competed at 2* Grand Prix level. They clicked quickly and notched clear rounds and good results in their first show at 1.45m level, backing that up on the Sunshine Tour. “He’s an exciting addition,” she says of the 10-year-old.
Avalon du Carpont is stepping up after being very consistent at the 1.4-1.45m level and while Lisa says he’s a “weirdo” he has plenty of talent. Black mare Encore, a successful speed machine albeit a princess who Lisa says she loves like a favourite pet.
Her favourites – just quietly – are Warriors Glory and Encore. “They are special to me.”
“We are building a team of horsepower and I think we have a fairly solid base but now it is about mileage and gaining experience to see where these current horses will go. While we are running a trading stable that sees horses come and go, we are also developing young horses for the future.”
That future could include the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. “I would like to think we have something in the mix for Tokyo and I feel the next couple of months will give us a better idea. It is certainly a goal for me.”
But just as important to Lisa is her son Finn who she feels she has spent too much time apart from lately. They are on the hunt for a super nanny to help but she says the family support from both sides is amazing.
“I’d love to say we have everything worked out but to be honest it is a bit like herding cats! We are trying to do the best job we can with everything we have taken on, which is a lot. This really is one hell of an opportunity and I will forever be thankful for it. I am now getting to experience things I literally only ever dreamt of.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison