29 Jun 2021

Equestrian set to fulfil life long dream

11:15 am on 29 June 2021

Competing at the Olympics is something equestrian Jesse Campbell has dreamt about since he was six.

Campbell has been selected along with the experienced husband and wife team of Tim and Jonelle Price to compete in the three day eventing in Tokyo next month.

The 31 year olds interest in the sport was sparked by a successful couple of days during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when New Zealand won gold, silver and bronze medals in eventing.

Campbell left New Zealand as a 20 year old in 2010 and spent almost two years learning the ropes from fellow New Zealander, the six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson.

Jesse Campbell rides Cleveland at 2019 Nations Cup.


"I left with two horses, a suitcase and a challenge," Campbell said.

"The ambition ever since I was a kid has been to ride at an Olympics and to hopefully win an Olympic gold medal."

"Watching Mark Todd and then Blyth Tait at the 96 Olympics really inspired me and a lot of that focus has stuck with me, so it's pretty cool that I have this opportunity now."

Campbell believes working for Nicholson and having that New Zealand connection probably helped him get started.

"Being able to stick it out at Andrew's for almost two years, people probably recognised that you're a hard worker and determined to do this."

After leaving Nicholson's stable, Campbell moved to Marlborough in south-west England and set up his own business.

"That was probably the hardest thing I did, you don't have a safety net, I remember waking up on the first day after leaving Andrew's and I had to muck out my horses and I didn't even have a wheelbarrow or a pitch fork."

"So it was a challenge, but I think it has made me adaptable and determined."

He admits finding owners that would allow him to ride their horses was also a challenge but he got help from another New Zealander Kent Gardner, who was able to give him a start.

In 2013, Campbell represented New Zealand at the Eventing Nations Cup Championship his top ten result one of the New Zealand team's highest scores.

Since then he has competed around the world and improved his world ranking.

His Olympic horse is Diachello, a 10 year old German bred gelding horse and placed 11th at Kentucky this year and was third in a 4-star event in France at the end of last year.

Jesse Campbell

Jesse Campbell Photo: Photosport

Campbell said the horse has probably benefited from the Olympics being pushed back a year by Covid.

He's also benefited from his connection with his Olympic team-mates Tim and Jonelle Price.

"They've really taken me under their wing in recent years, we get on really well both in competition and off the horses , they also came up through the system the hard way with no money and so it's really satisfying to be on the team with them."

"It's obviously a big thing to say we're going to win but we wouldn't do it if we didn't think we could win."

"The Brits are red hot favourites but we know that on our day we can put in a good score and so we just have to take it one stage at a time."

Campbell and Diachello have one more event in Bedfordshire this weekend before the horse goes into quarantine next week.

Equestrian is New Zealand's fifth most successful sport at the Olympics with three gold medals, two silver medals and five bronze medals."

"We've never won a team gold medal and so we'd like to change that, but I'll go there with integrity and the aim to do my best."