Jesse missed the UK’s premier four-star competition last year when Kaapachino developed a bacterial infection. Instead they re-routed to Luhmuhlen in Germany, where they finished 16th at their first four-star in hot company.
This year preparations have gone much more smoothly in the lead up to Badminton and the prospect of tackling the famous fences is one that thrills 26-year-old Jesse. He said:
“Kaapy is a brilliant horse cross country and has all the credentials to tackle those famous fences. We’ve had a good build up with clears cross country at Great Witchingham and the CIC3* at Belton International where he gave me a really great feel. He was superb. He also produced very good dressage tests at both competitions. Riding at Badminton has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember and to be riding there next week is brilliant.”
It’s an achievement in itself that Kaapachino is to contest Badminton. Prior to last year’s setback, he required a year off to recover from injury caused from his long haul flight from New Zealand. Jesse said:
“It’s been a tough road for Kaapy but we had a great season last year and with hindsight I think it was a good thing that we missed Badminton as it gave us more time to prepare for Luhmuhlen. After that he won the CIC3* at Millstreet in Ireland and we were also on the Nations Cup team that represented New Zealand at Boekelo that ensured qualification for the Rio Olympics.”
Jesse is based near Ramsbury in Wiltshire where he trains and competes a dozen or so horses, he is one of nine riders on New Zealand’s Eventing High Performance squad vying for Rio Olympic selection. He grew up in Cambridge, New Zealand in the centre of the horsey mecca of the Waikato which was also home to Sir Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Vaughn Jefferis. As a boy he aspired to ride like Mark and Vaughn and moved to the UK in 2010 to work for Andrew Nicholson before setting up his own yard two years later. He said:
“I’ve always had a passion for horses. I’ve no idea where it came from, as no one else is horsey in my family. When I was a kid and we visited mum’s friend I got out of my stroller and they found me in the paddock under one of the horses.”
Next week’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials will be Jesse’s toughest test yet, but he’s taking it all in his stride.
“Yes there is pressure because you want to do well and its on a much bigger stage than I have competed on before, but in reality its just me and my horse and before a big competition I like to imagine I am competing against myself so that I go out and do the best I possibly can for Kaapy.”