Kaapachino (‘Kaapy’) Amsterdam 21 (‘Otto’) Cleveland (‘Freddy’)
I had always wanted to be the best, but I didn’t think that I could do it any more’
Name: Age: 12 Height: 16.3hh Breeding: TB by Kaapstad out of Right Tune. Kaapy once belonged to Sonya Palmer. Jesse was offered him as a catch ride at Puhinui — and they won. “I knew that I had to have him. Mum and Dad helped me.” Since then the pair has learned together, their journey taking them to four-star level for the first time this season. “He’s as brave as a lion and I love him,” says Jesse. “Having Kappy beside me kept me going through the darkest times.” Name: Age: 9 Height: 17hh Breeding: by Acorado, out of Allez Petite. The attractive grey is being aimed at the Blenheim CCI3* and Jesse believes that he is his best hope of obtaining a ticket to the Rio Olympics. Jesse bought Otto in Germany and he is owned by New Zealand couple Gary and Linda Harding. “He was the last horse I saw on a buying trip. The agent said, ‘I think this one will suit you’, and he did.” Name: Age: 8 Height: 17hh Breeding: by Watermill Swatch out of Rielone. Bred in Holland by a US TB stallion. Recommended to Jesse by British event rider Rodney Powell. “Freddy was in a dealer’s yard and I went and tried him. At that point I was told that he had been sold, but I hunted him down and bought him off the lady who had just purchased him,” explains Jesse. “He’s amazing.”
Jesse grew up in Cambridge, in the centre of the horsey mecca of the Waikato which was also home to Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Vaughn Jefferis and Clarke Johnstone. He aspired to be like Mark and Vaughn.
That ambition continued all the way through his years at St Peter’s Cambridge, a private school which awarded him a General Excellence Scholarship, and it stayed with him as he studied at the University of Waikato, until he dropped out of his sports science and marketing course to (of course) follow his dream.
“I’m more practical than academic. If I had my time again I would have chosen a more practical course. My girlfriend, though, is always on at me to get another skill.”
The year that changed Jesse’s life was 2009. He spent a few months in the UK training with Mark Todd. On his days off he would watch Andrew Nicholson ride. Jesse returned to New Zealand to build up a team of horses safe in the knowledge that a flight back to the UK was as certain as night following day. Apart from the eventing scene he liked “how England is a happening place. I don’t think I’ll ever move back to New Zealand, although I may retire there.”
In 2010 an email pinged into his inbox. It was from Andrew Nicholson offering him a job.
“Caroline Powell once told me that you should never let an opportunity pass you by and this was a pretty amazing one. In a month or two I had packed up. I knew that I wouldn’t be asked twice.”
He stayed at Andrew’s Marlborough yard for nearly two years, gaining some initially impressive results, such as winning the Tattersalls CCI2* with Kaapachino. But soon the red rosettes all but dried up.
“I learned a lot of life’s lessons while I was with Andrew. If I could stick at it then, I knew that I really wanted to be an event rider,” says Jesse, who has recently been re-named on the High Performance Accelerator Squad.
When he packed up and headed for Maizey Manor, he didn’t even own a dandy brush. He rented just three boxes for his three horses.
What a difference three years makes. Today, as he lives on site in a flat, all of the boxes in one barn are filled with Jesse’s horses.
3He loves visiting London art galleries, and is a big fan of modern art, primarily the American Russian artist Mark Rothko, as well as Wassily Kandinsky, but he also likes Turner’s seascapes and Alfred Munnings’s equestrian masterpieces. Other hobbies include playing golf (with Tim Price) and reading. He is currently working his way through Bill Browder’s political thriller