Rider of the Year Tim Price on video from Aachen

A number of the country’s top equestrians have been acknowledged tonight by Equestrian Sports New Zealand after a year of training and competing that has been one of the most disruptive in recent history.

One of the worst storms to hit New Zealand in living history caused nation-wide devastation, particularly in the Hawke’s Bay area where the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show was cancelled for the third consecutive time.

ESNZ Board Chairperson Lynda Clark said the country’s top equestrians and their horses had demonstrated outstanding resilience during the past twelve months, and she was pleased to recognise many of them at the ESNZ Annual Hall of Fame Awards at the Rydges Latimer Hotel in Christchurch.

Rider of the Year

This year’s Rider of the Year went to UK-based Tim Price, currently ranked as World Number One by FEI Eventing, a position he also held briefly in 2019. Price has had a stellar year placing the country on the international podium four times: winner of the FEI National Cup CCI4* at Enschede in the Netherlands and the CCI5*L at Fair Hill, America; an individual Bronze at the World Eventing Championships and a team bronze in Italy that broke a 12-year drought among team medals for New Zealand.

International Horse of the Year

The International Horse of the Year was awarded to the New Zealand bred and locally owned dressage mount Windermere J’Obei W, ridden by Melissa Galloway of Marlborough. The horse has been unbeatable in CDI, achieving an outstanding nine-straight-wins in competitions locally and internationally. This included three wins from three starts at the Sydney CDI, and he took top ten places at the CDI in Belgium.

National Horse of the Year

The National Horse of the Year award was shared between two horses this year. Trudeau, ridden by New Plymouth eventer Matthew Grayling, set a new record of five consecutive 4* national Three-Day and One-Day titles, while the previous record was for just three set in the late 1970s. Cassina Dior, ridden by showjumper Phillip Steiner of Tauranga, was New Zealand’s first representative in eight years at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Nebraska. They qualified in the top 30 and, after winning two World Cup competitions, took out the POLi Payments FEI World Cup NZL League Award.  

Team of the Year

The Team of the Year title went to a team that was placed in a FEI World Competition where they didn’t have to leave their own country. First in FEI Group 8, they came second from 28 countries in the FEI Teams World Rankings, and was comprised of Jody Hartstone, Susan Tomlin, Lucy Cochrane and Paige Fitzgerald, with Chef D’Equipe Karen Anderson.

Youth of the Year

The Youth of the Year for riders under 24 years of age was awarded across three disciplines.

The Dressage Youth of the Year was awarded to the Dressage Youth Council, including six national council members and 16 area representatives from across Auckland, Nelson and South Canterbury/North Otago.

The Eventing Youth of the Year went to Charlotte Penny of Taupo, a member of the winning NZ Young Rider Oceania Team at Melbourne International 3DE who is also currently in second place in the New Zealand Young Rider series.

The Jumping Youth of the Year was awarded to a Ike Baker, a Northern Hawkes Bay youth Jumping delegate for his area who is also bringing on his own team of young horses.

Pilmer Plate

The Pilmer Plate Lifetime Volunteer/Officials Award was presented in memory of Richard Pilmer, the founder and president of  the former New Zealand Horse Society in the 1950s.

The recipient was Roger Laplanche, a celebrated jumping course designer from South Canterbury. In presenting the award, ESNZ Patron Jennifer Millar said,

“As Patron it gives me the greatest pleasure to award The Pilmer Plate to a Technical Official who has been a volunteer for the last 30 years and throughout his career has shown commitment, dedication and hard work sharing his expertise and experience with all those keen to learn mentoring many up and coming Jumping Course designers keen to improve their knowledge.”

Hall of Fame Inductees

Five top equestrians were inducted into the ESNZ Hall of Fame, each well-known across the country, not only in the equestrian sector, but also to the greater development of the sport and its participants locally and internationally.

The late Peter Morris MNZM was recognised for his judging career and contribution as one of the country’s most respected technical officials at the highest level for over 40 years. Growing up in the Wairarapa, at 21 Peter turned away from a competing career and took an interest in the rules of the sport. This saw him officiate in many countries across the globe, including judging the water jump at the first Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Calgary in 1990 in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

The second inductee was Catriona Williams, a Wairarapa equestrian who had spent much of her early life on the podium winning some of the country’s most prestigious national titles, often multiple times. An outstanding woman, Catriona was recognised as someone who has never ceased to push the boundaries, both within equestrian sports and in her dedication to the research into helping spinal cord injury sufferers to walk again.

The third inductee was Merran Hain QSM, the only person in New Zealand who has participated for six decades as a rider, supporter, official and volunteer. She is also the only rider to have represented New Zealand at senior level across the three Olympic disciplines of show jumping, eventing and dressage, and just last year won the Thoroughbreds in Equestrian Sports Show Hunter Series for the seventh time.

The fourth inductee was John Cottle, who first represented New Zealand internationally in the early 1970s and rapidly became known as, “the master of jump-offs”. John has produced six Olympic Horses and has been Chef  D’Equipe of many winning NZ Young Rider teams.  He has also been a national coach and selector, chairman of the young rider selectors and member of the high performance and planning and development committees.

The fifth inductee was Alan Hampton ONMZ, who was responsible for the design and development of the South Island Equestrian Centre at McLean’s Island, Christchurch which will celebrate 40 years of existence this year. His life-long service to equestrian sports includes many significant achievements in the development of the sport, particularly in the South Island. Alan is also a trustee of the Nimon Trust, a fund that supports young riders heading overseas to gain international experience and opportunities.

Special Award

ESNZ General Manager Community Jo Colin presented the ESNZ Special Award for long service to Warrick Allan, a High Performance Manager who joined the organisation from his hometown of Gisborne 19 years ago.

Jo said Warrick had excelled in his work across the organisation in many roles, including positions in para sport, health and safety, and high performance.

“Warrick was acknowledged for his commitment to the High Performance programme, as the “go-to” person for riders from Sir Mark Todd to the present day with Tim and Jonelle Price. He is regarded as the font of all knowledge when it comes to international equestrian competition and his contribution to ESNZ has been nothing if not exemplary,” said Jo.

A full list of the award-winners:

Rider of the Year – Tim Price

International Horse of the Year – Windermere J’Obei W

National Horse of the Year – Trudeau and Cassina Dior

Team of the Year – FEI Dressage World Challenge Team

Dressage Youth of the Year – Dressage Youth Council

Eventing Youth of the Year – Charlotte Penny

Jumping Youth of the Year – Ike Baker

Pilmer Plate:

Roger Laplanche

Hall of Fame Inductees:

Peter Morris

Catronia Williams

Merran Hain

John Cottle

Alan Hampton


Special Award:

Warrick Allan