Fiona Craig is heading home to New Zealand with her grand prix partner Marcus after 16 years in UK

New Zealander Fiona Craig is travelling back home to Auckland on Friday (22 November) taking her 18-year-old grand prix dressage horse Marcus with her.

Fiona came to England in 1986 and three years later first encountered Marcus who had been bought as a prospective hunter in the yard she was based.

“I always schooled the horses and took Marcus competing. He started winning and then never stopped all the way to grand prix.”

Marcus, the result of an unplanned mating was always a head-strong character, which Fiona attributes to the fact that he wasleft on his mother till he was three.

In the dressage arena he was either brilliant or disappointing, yet competed internationally with Fiona gaining 10 for piaffe from Eric Lette in Aachen and was third in the Rotterdam CDIO in 1993 thoughFiona’s ambition to compete for New Zealand in the Olympic games was thwarted by Marcus’s lameness.

Ironically, 1993, his most successful year of international competition, was also his last.

“He was just starting to settle in the arena and the next year he went lame and then I had to retire him due to other health problems. I probably never really appreciated him enough when he was winning, but I know I’ll never have a horse like him again.”

Fiona also struck up a trainingpartnership with Blyth Tait and Blyth attributes his success in Atlanta with Ready Teddy to the help he received form Fiona.

In a recent feature in Eventing magazine Blyth says, “Teddy wouldn’t have been the easiest horse and he wouldn’t have become as good as he did if he hadn’t been started the right way by Fiona and she was instrumental in our gold medal.”

Marcus and Fiona are currently serving their last week of quarantine before flying to Auckland where the duo will be based just 15 minutes from the beach.” I’ve had a great time here and met some lovely people but it’s time to go home,” says Fiona. “I’m looking forward to riding the horses on the beach and having some sunshine.”