New Zealand’s first-ever equestrian Olympic team and one of the nation’s most beloved horses were honoured this evening at the Equestrian Sports New Zealand Hall of Fame Cocktail Party.
Sir Mark Todd’s Charisma along with the 1964 Tokyo Olympic jumping team, comprising the late Bruce and Graeme Hansen (Gisborne), along with Adrian White (Hawke’s Bay) and Charlie Matthews (Gisborne) were inducted before 200 people at the event which was held as part of the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show in Hawke’s Bay.
Adrian was the only rider at the celebration while families of the Hansens and Charlie attended. Charlie, who now lives in Australia, was unable to attend.
The team sailed to Tokyo, with the horses stabled on deck beside a rather pungent pellet of garlic. Bruce captained the team, which finished in 10thplace. Just Bruce, Graeme and Adrian competed at the Games with Charlie the reserve. Graeme and Saba Sam were the best of the Kiwis in the opening round with Adrian and Eldorado leading the way in the second. At the end of the Games, Syndicate and Eldorado were sold while Tide and Saba Sam returned to New Zealand. When they competed at the Wairoa Show on their return, the whole district were said to have turned out to watch them. Graeme was the driver behind the Teams’ Competition which is held annually at the Horse of the Year Show with the coveted Saba Sam Shield up for grabs.
Charisma and Sir Mark won back-to-back individual gold medals at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) and endeared themselves to the nation. Charisma didn’t start his eventing career until he was 10, Charisma – or Podge as he was known thanks to a keen eye for food – and while it was eventing that led him to the world stage, he also competed to B Grade showjumping level and Prix St George dressage.
Podge was described as a brilliant cross country horse by Sir Mark, saying he was very bold, scopey, fast and nippy – all in all, the perfect combination.
Despite his diminutive height of just 15.3hh the horse was second at Badminton, won Luhmuhlen and twice claimed the British Open Championship as well as a second at Burghley. He retired back to New Zealand at 16 and died in 2002 at Sir Mark’s Cambridge property.
UK-based Olympic eventer Tim Price was a big winner at the awards evening, picking up the Rider of the Year crown, and as part of the Team of the Year with Sir Mark Todd and Jonelle Price as victors in the Nations’ Cup class at the Camphire International Horse Trials in Ireland in July. It was Sir Mark’s last international eventing competition and where he made the shock announcement of his retirement. Tim’s horse Ascona M was crowned Horse of the Year alongside Windermere Cappuccino who is ridden by West Melton’s Tegan Fitzsimon. The rising 10-year-old this year successfully defended his FEI World Cup NZ League Series title alongside his National Showjumping crown, continuing a stellar career that has seen him win all the age group series through his career as well as the Horse Grand Prix and Premier Grand Prix series. He is owned by Tegan and the Parkes Family.
Jumping stalwart Audrey Cameron was presented the Pilmer Plate for her lifetime of involvement with the sport. The FEI Level 3 judge and FEI Level 2 steward hails from Tauranga and is one of the nation’s highest-ranked and most popular officials.
An auction was also held as part of the evening to raise funds to support our NZ Jumping riders on their journey to Toyko. Over $25,000 was raised during the night. A big thank you to everyone who attended the event, to our generous bidders and all the lovely people who donated auction items. The team are so thankful for your support.