Kiwis on top of the jumping world!

New Zealand team (l-r): Bruce Goodin, Samantha McIntosh, Chef d’Equipe Ulrika Goodin, Daniel Meech and Richard Gardner (Image: Photo FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

Samantha McIntosh and Check In clinched victory for New Zealand in a nail-biting finish to the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi overnight! Congratulations to our four wonderful Kiwi riders who have created history! We are so proud of what you have done!

Sam and Check In settled the result in a fantastic jump-off against Ireland’s Shane Breen and Laith when the two countries were tied on 12 faults after two rounds. Italy finished third, with Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the host nation sharing fourth spot.

Sam McIntosh and Check In tackle an oxer in the jump-off (Photo FEI/ Martin Dokoupil)

Samantha says that the victory was totally unexpected; she and her team-mates wondered if they had just made history as the first-ever winning Nations Cup side for their country (they had!). “It’s ridiculous, it was like watching a movie –  honestly, I never thought we could do it!”

Team pathfinder Daniel Meech is a double-Olympian, but second-line rider Richard Gardner is relatively unknown. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience and nor does his horse but they have been together since Calisto was young and they know each other inside out,” says Sam. “He believed in his horse and he was very grateful to get the chance to show what they could do.”

Richard Gardner and Calisto (Image: FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

“And as for Bruce Goodin, he’s the rock of our team. He borrowed this horse (Backatorps Danny V) and was riding it for the very first time at this show. He’s just amazing!” 

Bruce Goodin on Backatorps Danny V – a horse he rode for the first time this weekend! (Image: FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

With four faults each, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Italy shared the lead at the halfway stage, but although the Saudis lost their grip in round two, it seemed Italy might go into the jump-off if anchorman, Natale Chiaudani, could leave all the poles up.  However, two mistakes from the 19-year-old Almero put paid to that, and it was Sam who was selected to take on Shane Breen in the third-round race against the clock.

She had already been fault-free with her 15-year-old stallion Check In, so was guaranteed a half-share of the €50,000 bonus on offer for double-

Going for glory – Daniel Meech and his mare, Fine, jump clean and clear on their way to helping Team New Zealand to a superb victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of United Arab Emirates 2018 in Abu Dhabi (Image: FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

clear rounds, along with Ireland’s David Simpson on Keoki. Sam went into the jump-off first and threw down a target of 40.16 seconds. Shane, selected to ride for Ireland, went out all guns blazing, but faulted at the third fence and went on to collect 17 faults in total.

The second leg of the 2018 series takes place in Ocala (USA) tomorrow (18 February) where teams from the North/Central America and Caribbean League will battle it out in the first of three qualifiers for their region.

Result: 1, New Zealand 12 faults, 0/40.16 in jump-off – Fine (Daniel Meech) 8/4, Calisto (Richard Gardner) 4/4, Backatorps Danny V (Bruce Goodin) 0/4, Check In (Samantha McIntosh) 0/0/0/40.16; 2, Ireland 12 faults, 17/51.79 in jump-off – Aiyetoro (Cameron Hanley) 4/4, Keoki (David Simpson) 0/0, Cartown Danger Mouse (Paul Kennedy) 8/4, Laith (Shane Breen) 0/8/17/51.79; 3, Italy 20 faults – Connery (Luca Maria Moneta) 4/0, Crandessa (Luca Coata) 0/8, Dardonge (Simona Coata) 12/8, Almero (Natale Chiaudani) 0/8.

You can watch the video highlights here.