Luce Williams rides Grassendale Enzo.  Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography


Luce Williams is a veterinary physiotherapist by trade, although that has very much become a part time venture as the beef farm and sheep stud that she runs with husband George, in Tinui, about an hour east of Masterton, takes up most of her time, along with their kids.  Alongside this she is a fond producer of off the track thoroughbreds. George is the brother to Sam Williams, who owns and runs the very successful Little Avondale Stud alongside his wife and great equestrian Catriona Williams, so thoroughbreds are very much in the blood for this family.

“I love TB’s to bits, they are so trainable. If they aren’t good show jumpers, they are generally good at something else – they can be good at anything. I train them to excel in what they show a natural tendency to be best at”.

While Luce tends to produce these horses up to 1.10m level and sell them, there was a special one amongst them that she’s managed to keep and produce further giving both her and her daughter, Sofia, much enjoyment and success.  You could say it was love at first sight when Luce saw a photo of this striking grey gelding over-jumping a log and thought “oh wow, that’s for me”, and this fate was settled when husband George surprised her by purchasing him. This handsome, but quirky three year old gelding that proved too slow on the racetrack, has been steadily produced through the age series classes to the very much adored horse that he is today. Following his second place last year, Grassendale Enzo is your TiES Jumping Series winner for this season. “While he may have been the most expensive TB we have ever purchased, he is certainly worth every dollar, we have had so much pleasure out of him”.

By Reliable Man, out of the Kaapstad mare Kaarera, Enzo’s off the track career started strong when he won his first ever four year old class. He remained consistent throughout the five, and six year old series, and reached new limits in the seven year old series where he placed in every start and even had a crack at a couple of Grand Prix.

“My aim was to get to Amateur Rider, and Enzo has taken me to Grand Prix and given me the confidence to compete at the level I’m competing at, and now he’s doing that for Sof too, which is pretty cool”.

This season, Luce decided to focus on the Pro Am series, so her daughter Sofia could share the ride and have a go at the Junior Rider level. Sofia has already had an impressive career aboard her ponies, Buzzie Bees Max & Black Betty, finishing in third and fourth place in the AMS Saddlery Pony Grand Prix respectively, a success that she looks to be taking through to hacks after winning and placing in numerous Mainland Coachwork Junior Rider classes this season with Enzo. On top of this, Luce & Enzo also placed fourth in the Pro Am series.

“Enzo won the title of best performed TB in series classes, he got double points at most shows (in the Junior Rider & Pro-Am) because he is so consistent and he won by quite a lot because of that. He absolutely loves his job, he loves jumping, if we drive past his paddock in the float, he will come running and screaming ‘why aren’t you taking me?!’ He’s well and truly part of the family, he thinks he’s human!”

Although Enzo is a renowned party animal at shows that can often be found rearing and playing with any neighbour he finds himself next to, he also certainly seems to have the heart of a lion, and the mind of a survivor. When Cyclone Gabrielle struck in February 2023, he was moved to higher ground to ensure his safety after the staff houses flooded, which in hindsight was a good move as all the flats flooded like they never have before. The worried family managed to locate Enzo through binoculars, as access to that part of the farm was inaccessible. “He was about four paddocks away from where he had been left! I finally got to him on day three after the floods, but despite losing all his shoes, he was fine, although his cover had definitely been under water. We needed some headspace after a pretty intense week, so we went to Feilding show for the weekend and Enzo placed in both his classes, even with no shoes on!”.

Enzo seems to be a horse that can turn his hoof to anything. At the end of last season, Luce entered him in some showing classes to support a local show. When they won Reserved Champion Ridden Horse, it left the judges asking why they hadn’t seen this flashy combination at other shows and why they weren’t qualifying for HOY!

“He’s really brave, has beautiful natural cadence, is very naturally uphill and is really soft and supple. He is naturally everything you’d want in a horse really. He’s very trainable as he’s so sensitive, although he’s a drama queen, we can manage him as we know him so well. Nothing really phases him now”.

Next season, whilst Luce’s dream goal is to compete in Lady Rider of the Year, she also wants Enzo’s focus to be with Sofia and cementing her confidence at some higher heights. “I will take a bit of a back seat so all of his energy is with Sofia but will see how the classes work out. It will be a bonus if I get to jump a class on him”.

Luce’s love for the thoroughbred breed is clear, and while she does dabble in a bit of breeding, she only has a couple of half TB’s. “I’m keen to get another full TB to contest the TiES series again, but I may have to wait until my daughter leaves home so there’s more room on the trailer for me!”

I very much doubt that this is last we have seen of Luce & Sofia in the TiES series, or any series for that matter. We look forward to seeing what successes they have with Enzo in the coming seasons.


The Jumping Team – 10 June 2024