Sam McIntosh Q&A
The Takapoto riding team is led by New Zealand's top ranked professional rider Samantha McIntosh, who is currently competing as a full-time professional with her team of horses based at Arcachon in Southern France.
Sam has been competing in Europe since the age of 18 and originally rode under Bulgarian allegiance. She has competed at the Sydney Olympics, a World Cup final, multiple European Championships, World Championships and again at representative level, this time for New Zealand at the FEI Nations Cup in 2017 and 2018.
At the 2018 FEI Nations Cup in UAE, Sam was a part of the hugely exciting breakthrough New Zealand win - the first time a New Zealand team has won at that level.
She provides mentoring and leadership to the two Takapoto professional riders based in Cambridge, New Zealand: Managing Rider Jaime Campbell and Young Rider Oliver Croucher.
1. You had an amazing year with Check In last year with the incredible win in Abu Dhabi and being the highest placed New Zealander at WEG, what's on the cards (aspirations) for you guys this year?
It’s going to be a quiet year championship-wise for us. But there is the Olympic qualifier for the New Zealand team in August which is obviously a very important and exciting event for us all. Simultaneously to that, I’m planning to compete in some 4 and 5 Star shows over the summer with Check In.
2. Tell us about that Abu Dhabi win - where does that rank in your career highlights? What does it mean to you?
Winning the 5 Star Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi was definitely one of best moments of my career. It was an unforgettable experience achieving this win with such a great team, it really was a huge buzz. A small moment of glory for us after many years of hard work and perseverance.
3. What are your reflections on your WEG campaign?
WEG was another big moment for us last year. Check In performed superbly and did us proud to notch up some great rounds and a best individual placing for a kiwi so far at WEG.
4. This year you added a new star to your team Alaid, tell us a bit about her and your plans for her this year?
I’ve been quietly progressing in my work with Alaid de Chez Nous and I plan to step her up into some bigger classes early on this season. Hopefully before too long we’ll be into some Grand Prixs’.
5. Estina is still going strong and Malarkey back in New Zealand (her son) is also showing some top form, you must be excited with the results from the Takapoto breeding program?
I’m proud to say Estina is still producing great results for me, particularly considering that she was quite a challenge to begin with. But now she is so consistent and such a fighter for me in the ring. I’m also really looking forward to my future riding Malarkey who’s now just turned 6 and has a lot of his dams’ qualities. Estina comes from a great mother-line that has produced many approved stallions, so I hope she will bring many more champions to the Takapoto breeding program in the future. She will return to the stud farm in New Zealand sometime in the future.
6. Check In has also been breeding some great superstars abroad and also for the Takapoto breeding program - what do you think are his best qualities that he's passing on to his offspring? And what level are his offspring competing at in Europe?
It’s exciting to have a number of off-spring from Check In growing-up at home. The oldest are now 2 years old and looking strong and athletic like their dad. There are now several competing at the top level here in Europe.
7. Currently which is your favourite horse competing in Show Jumping?
A favourite horse is a very hard question! There are so many great jumpers at the shows today. But I have to say the team of horses I have are my favourites any day.
8. You have produced so many good horses over the years, what do you look for in a young horse? And what is your key advice when it comes to choosing young horses?
It’s really hard to pick a Grand Prix horse out from a bunch of wild youngsters. Once they can be ridden it gets easier. I look for a light-footed horse, athletic with natural balance and a sharp instinct. Of course, today they also need to be intelligent and willing to work with you too.
9. If you weren't a show jumper, what would you see yourself doing?
Hmmmm if I wasn’t a show jumper? I’m guessing it would still have something to do with horses in some shape or form. I’ve had a fair bit of practice as a truck driver too haha but that’s not half as exciting!
10. What's your perspective on the state of show jumping in NZ currently? What are the positives, where is there room for improvement?
Show jumping in New Zealand is in a very positive place at the moment. We’re getting great results with a bunch of riders overseas and at the same time the quantity and quality of riders in the bigger classes nationally is improving each year. As always, we have a very talented group of younger riders notching up wins in Grand Prixs’. There are still some problems but with a group of motivated people the sport is progressing all the time.
11. What do you think of the facility that Mitch & Kate have built in NZ - what does this mean for the sport in NZ?
The Takapoto Estate facility is undoubtedly the best and most exciting thing that’s happened to our sport in New Zealand. It’s setting a world class standard in all aspects. The first year was such a huge success and I’m looking forward to seeing the competition and atmosphere go up another notch this year.
12. Tell us something about you that most people wouldn't know and probably wouldn't guess?
The people who’ve known me for a long time would know this, but most would be surprised to hear it: I was actually afraid of jumping big when I was young. I was most ‘un-kiwi-kid-like’ in those days.
13. What do you miss most about New Zealand while you are away?
There are lots of things I miss about New Zealand. Of course, top of the list is my family including my dog! My lovely little house there and seeing the horses relaxing (or hooning around) in the paddock from my window. I also miss fejoas and the occasional pie!