Matthew Grayling rides Trudeau. File Photo. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

It’s been a while between drinks for 2004 Olympian Matthew Grayling but currently he’s in the throes of packing up his horse and gear to head offshore and chase some big titles.

The 60-year-old Taranaki dairy farmer is one of a number of top Kiwi riders heading Stateside this month. His horse Trudeau – owned by Winky Foley and Matthew – will join three  other eventing horses and showjumpers Central Park and LT Holst Andrea on the February 12 flight with IRT (ESNZ’s preferred supplier of international horse transport services). 

Matthew is no stranger to top competition. In 2001, he and Revo won the Adelaide 5*, they went on to finish eighth in the 2004 FEI Eventing World Cup Final at Pau and were a member of the fifth place New Zealand team at the Athens Olympic Games.

He has fond memories of his competition days with Revo. “He was a pretty special horse. He wasn’t big and strong, coming in at just 16HH and no oil painting . . . but he had a heart of gold.” And Matthew was chuffed when one of the chief judges at the Pau World Cup said he didn’t think he could make the horse go any better than he had. They also completed Badminton. But for now his attention is on the future with Trudeau, with a slight eye to the Paris Olympic Games.

Matthew and Trudeau have certainly cemented themselves as one of the very best in the country in recent years, with three consecutive three-day national titles and two one day crowns to their credit – among other podium finishes. They headed to Melbourne in 2022 for the CCI4*-L where two pesky showjumping rails saw them finish just inside the top 10.

“I thought, well, I’m not getting any younger and the Kentucky 5* looks appealing with nice open country,” said Matthew. “I’ve not been there so I thought that was the one we should go to.” He chatted with the owner and breeder Winky and now everything is in motion.

Seventeen-year-old Trudeau travelled well to Australia in 2022 and both Matthew and Winky feel the trip shouldn’t be problematic. “It is a little harder going to the United States and we are going a whisker earlier than we would like but this is the only flight in the year that doesn’t go through China so quarantine is only three days at the other end.

“He is a deceptively brave horse with a little Arab, thoroughbred and warmblood in there. From day one he has been confident to jump whatever I have asked of him.” It’s a solid partnership built on trust.

Matthew and Trudeau will initially base at Boyd Martin’s in South Carolina, with his wife Susan joining them a bit later. “I will have a chat with Boyd and make a bit of a plan. I will discuss where he is going and what he thinks will be suitable courses for us.”

Matthew and Susan run 600 dairy cows on their 300 hectares at Okato. Son Callum will come in to be chief overseer in their absence. The plan is to stay through until the end of April and then reassess.
“Paris is at the back of my mind. We’d be a longshot but you’ve just got to do what you can and hopefully do it reasonably well. It really comes down to on the day. To make a Games team at this age would be pretty special and quite an honour to say you had a career that long and still competing at top level.”

As grounded and matter of fact as Matthew is, he does admit to being a tad excited. “The 60-year-old dairy farmer trying to take on the big boys again. It is a neat story isn’t it?”

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ