There is a new and exciting UK-based Kiwi initiative being established thanks to Jock Paget’s long-time supporter Joe Giannamore.
Jock and Joe have worked together for nearly a decade now, following on from his support of Blyth Tait and Paul O’Brien for many years. While he may not carry a New Zealand passport, Joe feels a true kinsmanship with Kiwis. “I think I was lucky to meet some incredibly good Kiwis in Blyth and Paul, some 20-plus years ago” says Joe. “This is just a combination of my passion for horses and a real admiration and liking of the typical Kiwi character.”
That first meeting came at a rather challenging time for Joe when his toddler was unwell and he had a horse sitting around not doing much. Paul initially looked at the horse and the rest – as they say – is history. Paul and Blyth became Joe’s trainers, and Paul, as Joe’s first sponsored rider, went on to ride at the Sydney Olympic Games aboard Enzed.
“Blyth said to me a long time ago that you need to treat horses like champions at home for them to go out and compete like champions. This is an opportunity (for New Zealand riders) to be in an environment filled with the legacy of Kiwi champions history and a chance for them to create champions out of themselves.”
By his own admission, Joe likes to watch things grow and riders are no different. “This is a continuation of what I like to do,” he says. “I get a great deal of pleasure watching these kids develop and go on to do other things.”
Much of it was driven by the Kiwi character which he admires. Jock is like family to Joe, and he and his wife are godparents to son Billy.
“Joe was instrumental in my success as a rider,” says Jock. “Aside from enabling me with infrastructure and horses, he taught me how to be a professional and gave me a much greater understanding of high performance. Joe is a great mentor of mine and someone I often go to for advice. We still have a couple of horses together in New Zealand and I really enjoy riding for him. While I chose to move home to take on my position as performance leader, Joe has still supported me as an owner.”
James Avery stepped into Jock’s boots at Joe’s yard when Jock left the United Kingdom in 2016 and has since gone out on his own. Rising star Samantha Lissington made the big jump to the United Kingdom with her team this year and will now be able to use the yard as a base.
Joe has a team of five horses which will be prepared by Samantha for Jock for targeted events, with Jock flying over to compete them a couple of times a year.
“Sam and I have worked together for more than 10 years. Competing these horses in the United Kingdom will essentially be doing catch rides so it gives me confidence in knowing Sam will be the one preparing them for me,” says Jock, who is now the ESNZ High Performance Programme leader.
“It is important for my position to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is a way for me connect with the United Kingdom HP program, work with our specialist coaches, management, selectors, and stay current and connected with the team. Joe’s yard – Buttermere Farm – will be a friendly base where New Zealand riders can finish off their campaigns, whether that be Tokyo or something else. It won’t suit everyone but will be perfect for others.”
Jock feels it gives New Zealand based riders coming through the system a safe and friendly platform to launch from when they arrive in the Northern Hemisphere. “Travelling and competing horses in a different hemisphere is extremely complex and there are so many variables which can catch a combination out. By sending our riders to a known environment means they can tap into preparations which have already been tested and proven. There is no way to eliminate all the things that can go wrong but this will certainly give them an advantage.”
He’s quick to add it is by no means a big commercial yard, rather a smaller, tighter operation. “This is simply the platform for them to get going before moving on to their own yards while also feeding back into the (high performance performance) programme.”
He is thriving as the performance programme leader. “I get a real kick out of it and love seeing the development of our young riders,” he says. “There is just so much talent there. We have a great HP programme in the United Kingdom too and once our riders are there, they can get support from our top ones like Tim and Jonelle (Price). This is a really exciting step for us. Joe is so supportive of the Kiwis and loves that involvement.”
Joe has been supporting New Zealand event riders for than 20 years. “He is hugely passionate about horses, having ridden to Olympic level himself so understands what the sport is about. He is very successful in private equity business and I think we are so fortunate as a nation to have him in our corner.”
Jock is hopeful the opportunity will help Samantha get to the next stage so she too can head out on her own. “Sam is a natural fit and this gives us the chance to learn from each other – she will be preparing my horses and I will get to better understand her preparation methods.”
Sam too is very excited about the move. “It is funny – in 2008 I won the Clifton Scholarship and CCI1* J class at Richfields which included lessons with Jock,” she says. “Here I am 11 years later preparing world class horses for Jock on the other side of the globe. You couldn’t have scripted it better. I am so thankful for this opportunity.”
It means she will have income to partially cover the continual running costs of her own team and is always on the lookout for new owners. “I am still struggling to make sure I can retain my own team of four,” she says. “It is nice to settle in and feel like I have a place to call home and am really looking forward to providing support to those riders who come on similar journeys. I hope we can create an environment that gives them better security and confidence.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ