Sam McIntosh is heading to Ireland excited and amped for the next stage of her career. The Olympian and World Championship rider flies out on Tuesday to join Cian O’Connor’s stable with her horse, 12-year-old Belgium-born Takapoto James S following a day later.
“The opportunity for the job presented itself and when I weighed up the odds, I thought it was a good chance to progress,” says Sam, who will continue to be part of the Takapoto team and involved with the breeding programme from offshore. “Mitch and Kate (Plaw) are very supportive of my move,” said Sam.
Cian, the individual bronze medallist from the 2012 Olympic Games, was looking for an experienced international rider. “It was an easy connection as I know him and it probably took just a couple of days backwards and forwards to work out the finer details. I think we are both what the other is looking for in the role.”
Sam will be producing top horses – seven, eight and nine-year-olds – through to the highest level. “I am really looking forward to it,” she said. Sam was in a similar situation when she enjoyed the most success in her career.
It is no secret Sam has missed being based in Europe. “I just missed the shows and the whole travelling side of things as well. I am really looking forward to getting back into it.” The new opportunity has lit the fire in her belly again and given her “something” to bite into. “It has been a bit tough honestly – I enjoy working with the young horses but it isn’t my forte.”
Sam is hesitant to talk about her long term plans but says the last one didn’t include COVID. “Who knows,” she says. “Ideally I would like to build things up to something successful there.
“It is impossible to say whether we will make the World Champs or Olympic Games – the situation isn’t written off but it just isn’t my main goal at the moment. If I get a horse good enough again I would certainly be keen. For now I just want to contribute to the team and produce horses well. I want to continue to enjoy my horses and do what I do best.”
She is hopeful the sport will continue to develop in New Zealand. “There are a lot of people doing their best and who want the same.” Sam says she will miss her dog, family and farm, but knows it will all be here waiting for her return . . . whenever that may be.
She has been based in Europe since the late 1990s spending most of her time in Germany, rode at the 2000 Olympic Games for Bulgaria and came back to black in time to wear the silver fern at the 2010 World Championships. Karlswood Stables now has a clutch of Kiwis based and working there, including Annabel Francis and Logan Massie.
Takapoto are in the throes of finding their next onshore based rider.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ