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  • Samantha Lissington

2023 - thats a wrap!

And so, the end of season hath cometh!

We’ve had a staggered finish with various horses winding down their years at different points.

Cornbury Park

First up our 5 year olds finished their season at Cornbury Park - Which was a blinder!

Couldn’t have gone too much better really! X6 horses and x6 double clears.

  • Double clear 5yr Championship – Cleo

  • 4th 5yr Championship – Rafa

  • 7th 6yr Championship – Cookie

  • 4th 7yr Championship – Quantas

  • 12th CCI2*S - Olive

Also a big congrats to Kaitlyn who was 2nd in the CCI2*S class with Zazu – plenty of pressure riding a horse like that and she certainly proved that she can soak it all up!

We had some disappointing news following Cornbury – as Cookie decided that he would finish his season there too! Turns out he had some bone bruising following a kick to the stable wall (not sure how or why). We opted to turn him out and let him rest, which very unfortunately meant that he couldn’t complete his final event of the year at the World Young Horse champs at Le Lion. Sad for all involved but pleased that he is ok, and we are hopeful that we will be able to tackle that goal next year!


Next up it was a final run for King Charles in the CCI4*L at Blenheim. It was tougher than I thought it would be heading back there - having lost Ricky one year ago at the same event. But I’m really pleased that we tackled it, and we have so much love for Charlie who was unaware that he was carrying a bit of extra baggage for the weekend.

A super smart test had him inside the top 10 after dressage, he stormed around the cross country but sadly a flag penalty kept us out of the competitive placings. He jumped clear on the final day (his second clear SJ at CCI4*L level!) and I have to say I am absolutely smitten with this horse.

Having bought him last year (well done and thank you Alex Power!), he has really come into his own in the past 6 months.

I feel we have another 5* pony in the making!

Off the back of all of this we are pleased to welcome Neil Robertson on board as the final owner to complete the Lord-Seekonig-set! He joins Sharon Honiss, and Annabelle & Robin Greville-Williams alongside Brayden and I.

Le Lion

All of a sudden it really felt like the business end of the year – final training sessions with Chris Burton, test run throughs, final gallops, we blinked and there we were on the overnight ferry heading from Portsmouth to Caen!

Quantas over-achieving in his last jump session before leaving!

Our French Foray this year was sponsored by Merlin Vet Group who service the vet industry globally by supplying pharmaceuticals, equipment and accessories. A couple of months ago Brayden and I went to visit the warehouse – so impressive and such a clever business started by industry need.

Le Lion really is a very exciting event, it is something special watching the training rings and knowing that every horse out there is either 6 or 7 years old (and the best ones in the world at that!)

We had pretty high expectations of our own 7yr Mr Q – and the white unicorn did not disappoint! Quantas was drawn 3rd to go (bugger!) I thought it was our best test to date but sadly I was surprised to look up on the board and see a 30.3 which I felt didn’t really represent the feeling he gave me.

However, he jumped double clear (his 10th double clear this year) and finished on that dressage score to climb up to 5th position – 5th in the world aint bad Mr Q!

First place finished on a 28.3 so it was all very tight!

We might be bias but we think he is pretty darn exciting.

We had a wonderful week with Jules, Marts, Annabelle, Grov and Neil – thanks for all the support and laughs guys.

Quantas then headed back with UK rider Caroline Harris (thank you!), whilst we headed on to Pau with Sooty.

We managed to outsource a field with high hedges for Quantas to holiday in – which is great because it means he can have a proper break without us worrying about him jumping out! He is out there with Rafa who annoyingly a habit of breaking all our electric fencing!


And so we arrived at the final event of the year.

It had been a question on our minds. Is Sooty a 5* horse?

As it turns out - by crikey he sure is!

A very tidy test on 28.9 had us inside the top 10 after dressage.


Problems left right and centre! Hopping on felt like going to battle I really didn’t know what to expect. I needn’t have worried, our little pocket rocket stormed around just adding time to his score.

And whilst his little legs don’t have the stride length of bigger horses, or the speed of more blood types, he certainly does have the stamina! It has constantly surprised me that he has the same amount of gallop at one minute that he does at 11!

We had the full support team out there to aid Fran and I – Jack (Farrier), Alice (Physio), Christiana and Alice (Vet), Sam and Burto (Coaching team). We are so thankful to team NZ for all of their help – as a result Sooty came out with a spring in his step on Sunday to post a classy clear round in the showjumping!

He finished in 12th place with a double clear in his first ever 5*.

This run has filled us with confidence, and we feel primed to head into next year whatever adventures await!

Having felt the pressure to finish off the season on a high, I am so proud of our team for delivering on this. We’ve closed the competition chapter of 2023 and I really feel like personally I can walk away and soak up some guilt-free downtime.

We were sitting at dinner last night (post team Laser Tag outing!) when Kaitlyn hit refresh on the FEI World Athlete Rankings – to find out that we are now sitting at #21 - a pretty phenomenal result from the efforts of 2023!

As we wrap up the year we need to say a huge thank you;

To Fran who has really grown in her role this year, and who can take a lot of credit for it being our most successful season to date.

To Kaitlyn who should be very proud of her riding, and whom I trust completely when we ship off leaving her in charge!

To Darcy who has fitted in with our crew so well.

And to all our owners, sponsors and supporters – 2023 has been the most enjoyable eventing year to date in my career, and we have loved sharing it with so many friendly faces.

And as we prepare to turn the page on 2023 I have never been more motivated to get training again, and I can’t wait for the BE calendar to come out so that we can begin our 2024 plans! 2024… That’s got a nice ring to it!

We aren’t heading back to NZ this time around, but we are going to visit the whanau in Brisbane on the 20th of November. Two weeks of recharging in sunshine before heading into the depths of UK Winter – that should be just what the Doctor ordered!

In the meantime I’m going to see if I can find some more horsepower!

All the best, Sam


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