McIntosh Homeward Bound

McIntosh Homeward Bound

Takapoto Estate’s superstar rider is coming home.

Sam McIntosh is in the throes of packing up her life in Europe and heading back to Cambridge with three of her horses in tow. The world has certainly become a different place since Covid-19 made its presence felt. Countries are in lockdown, borders shut, planes grounded and – in the world of horses – top competitions cancelled. The Tokyo Olympic Games is one casualty, having been postponed until 2021 but so much is unknown about what the future may look like for anyone.

“I am totally gutted Tokyo has been postponed,” says Sam, “but there obviously was no other option, and it has meant a massive change of plans for me.”

As part of her build-up to the Tokyo Games, Sam moved in December to Aix en Provence to train with Gilles Bertran de Balanda. “Now with the postponement and still uncertainty for next year with international shows cancelled for some months, it is a whole new ballgame.”

Sam and the Plaw family had some serious thinking to do. “We had to think about what our next best steps forward were and so, I have made the decision to be New Zealand based again.”

The Plaw family are very much committed to continuing to support equestrian in New Zealand.

Sam will be working with Takapoto’s young horses once she gets home and settled. “There is a bunch of them now that we’ve bred over the last few years and hopefully some future stars in the making,” she says. “They’ve been nicely produced by our New Zealand-based Takapoto team.”

She extended a huge thanks to Cheleken Equestrian, Jaime (Tiller), Oliver Croucher and Shana (Lee) for their efforts. “It is going to be fun spending more time developing our young horses and taking a more active role in producing them,” says Sam.

“New Zealand is always home no matter where I am based or for how long.”

She is bringing three of her four horses home with her too – her star WEG stallion, 17-year-old Check In 2 will move to Belgium to base with Tal Milstein Stallions where he will start his breeding career. “I am excited to say frozen semen will be available to breeders in New Zealand in the near future,” says Sam. Checky was her 2018 WEG horse at Tryon and her star for Tokyo. The 17-year-old German-bred stallion has been with Sam since 2015 and been a solid performer for New Zealand in Nations Cup’s competition, and particularly as the anchor to steer the nation to its first-ever Nations Cup win at Abu Dhabi in 2018.

Eleven-year-old James S, 10-year-old Alaid de Chez Nous and seven-year-old New Zealand warmblood Malarkey will all come home with her.

Ten-year-old Selle Francais mare Alaid de Chez Nous has been with Sam since 2018 and really starting to shine at the 1.45m level as is 11-year-old Belgium-bred James S.

Seven-year-old Malarkey was only just getting started when COVID-19 hit but Sam figures he has certainly benefited from the extra training. He is out of Estina, Sam’s retired World Cup mare.

“I know I will have my hands full when I first get home and I know I will miss the big shows here in Europe because it is what I have done for most of my life,” she says. “However, the level of sport in New Zealand is strong at the moment with some super-talented young riders at the helm.”

Never one to sit on her laurels, Sam says there are still many titles in New Zealand she would love to have a crack at.

But for now, her life is in limbo as the world waits not-so-patiently for restrictions to be lifted. “I am hoping to be on the way by sometime in June, but for now, it is day by day.”