“It was about seven years ago and I was working for Tim and Jonelle Price in Wiltshire,” explains Andy. “He was in to be sold and Jonelle said that she thought he might suit me, but I told her ‘no, I want a grey one!’ That winter, Tim and Jonelle went back to New Zealand for a few weeks and she told their groom to make sure I rode Peter while she was away.”
Jonelle’s plan worked and Andy soon clicked with Peter. But before he could buy the Irish-bred bay, fellow Kiwi eventer Caroline Powell had him vetted.
“Thankfully the vetting found Peter had a slight wind problem so Caroline didn’t want him. I went straight to Jonelle and asked her how much she wanted for him and transferred the money to her there and then.”
Since then Andy, 26, and Peter, 14, haven’t looked back. They have progressed together from one-star all the way to the highest echelons of eventing, culminating in two four-star completions, both at Adelaide, where they were 10th in 2016 and 2017.
Andy says that he loves Peter, or ‘Peter Perfect’, as he affectionately calls him, as he is a “real worker”.
“Peter is like me in that he thrives on perfecting things. He always tries his hardest and we have a great partnership.”
But Andy almost had to wave goodbye to Peter when his visa to work in England ran out before the 2013 season.
“I really didn’t want to go back to New Zealand as I love England and I see it very much as home,” he admits. “There was no way I could afford to fly Peter back with me and I was having to face facts in that I would be forced to sell him. Amazingly my parents then came forward and said they would pay to fly Peter back for me — it was a pretty emotional time.”
Before returning to a snow-covered UK five weeks ago, Andy spent most of the five years back in the Southern Hemisphere running his own yard.
“Then it felt like it was the right time to bring Peter back to the UK,” he explains. “We had two Adelaide completions under our belts and the next logical step seemed to be Badminton.”
Andy has managed to land himself into none other than William Fox-Pitt’s Dorset yard, where he hopes to stay for at least a year.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me and to be going to Badminton with someone that has not only competed there, but has won it twice is incredible. The insight and advice William is giving me is amazing.”
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Andy then jokes that he hopes he will find a husband within the next 12 months — “then I can stay in England forever!”
Having been based over here before, Andy has previously visited Badminton.
“I walked the cross-country with Jonelle in 2009 and told her I thought it looked very do-able,” he laughs. “She told me it’s different when you actually have to ride it and she’s probably right — but it looks pretty cool and I can’t wait.”
Read the full Badminton preview in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday 26 April 2018
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