New Performance Manager Penny Castle and Eventing Performance Leader Jock Paget Photo: Libby Law Photography

A restructure and strengthening of the ESNZ New Zealand-based Eventing Performance Programme has seen a familiar face step back into a management role.

Penny Castle, who was previously the eventing performance leader was appointed performance manager for the Talent Identification and Talent Development Squads just before the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown kicked in. Penny is credited with many of the hard yards in getting the New Zealand-based programme to where it is today. Jock Paget, who took the lead role when she vacated it, is rapt to have her back in a management position. She stepped away a year ago to spend more time with her own family and horses but stayed on as a specialist dressage coach and to help with planning and coaching where and when needed.

A lot can happen in a year – Penny got engaged to John Pearce and was due to be married in May but that’s now on hold until the lockdown is over and the world adjusts. She’s also moved properties and by her own admission, is in an incredibly good space.

“The job has been restructured with more purpose and I am really looking forward to being part of the leadership team again,” says Penny. “I now have all the other parts of my life more sorted and it is just great to be moving forwards like this.”

She and Jock have worked together since 2008 and have a rock solid relationship. Since the lockdown the two, along with ESNZ high performance director Simon Bennett have been poring over every aspect of the programme. “These are challenging times ahead,” says Penny, “and so different to anything we have gone through previously.”

Jock is excited to have Penny back on board. “It was such a big loss when she stepped down as programme leader and it’s just great she is again so interested in being a part of it,” said Jock. “The programme has been evolving so quickly in recent years – we are always looking to further develop it as new needs are identified. She re-enters the programme with fresh eyes and a very good perspective.”

Penny will coordinate the Talent Identification and Talent Development squads. “She will manage that space and communicate with riders, coaches, Simon and myself to further develop it. What is so exciting is that the programme has now developed to a place where we were needing to put someone into this role. It is very heartening to have a number of top quality people wanting to be a part of it.”

That is reiterated by Simon. “We have created a structure where there is a clear career potential for people in the New Zealand-based high performance programme. Penny has a real passion for high performance and squad development. This is a great team to have on board.”

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison