Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise — New Zaland's leading eventing combination
Clifton Promise to retire at Badminton

The 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Champion, Clifton Promise, is to be officially retired at the 2016 event in May.

Owned by Frances Stead since 2002 and ridden by Jock Paget since September 2007, the two have always said they would retire Promise at the first sign he was no longer enjoying his work quite as much.

And that sign appeared at the recent couple of Badminton warm-up events where Jock felt Promise didn't feel the same way he had in the past.

“It’s important we retire him a day early rather than a day late,” said Jock.

Many regard the field Jock Paget and Clifton Promise beat to win in 2013 as the toughest ever, as it included both William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson trying to win the final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, along with the combination of Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, then reigning Olympic, World and European champions, also vying to win the world’s premier horse trial at their first attempt. In this star-studded field, first-timers Jock and Promise were clearly the underdogs but came through to win on their dressage score and the only combination in the 30s.

Clifton Promise is also the only full thoroughbred to win Badminton Horse Trials this century. Whilst this was the highlight of his career, it was one of many successes in an exceptional 3 Day Eventing record spanning 10 years from 2005 to 2015, including 16 3DEs, 11 of them at 4-star level. His results speak for themselves:

  • First x 3
  • Second x 3
  • Fourth x 2
  • Sixth x 1
  • Seventh x 1 (WEG 2010)
  • 10th x 1 (London Olympics when he also won team bronze medal)
  • 12th x 1
  • 27th x 1 (Kentucky 2010- first 4-star competition for both horse and rider)
  • 1 x withdrawn after clear cross country (Badminton 2015)
  • 1 x retired cross country (WEG 2014 after his only ever cross country mistake at a 3DE. This occurred after a very restricted preparation for both horse and rider who were unable to compete for almost 12 months up until just prior to this event.)
  • 1 x disqualification after winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2013, the same year as winning Badminton. He was the first horse to do this for 24 years. He led the competition from start to finish. The result was subsequently annulled due to the presence of a minute level of a banned substance. This was proven to be as a result of a contaminated supplement. All parties were subsequently exonerated of any wrongdoing and found to be ’no fault, no negligence’ by the FEI tribunal.

In addition to this 3DE record, Clifton Promise won the New Zealand ‘Eventer of the Year’ title back to back in 2009 and 2010, before heading overseas for the rest of his career.

Frances Stead, of Clifton Eventers, bought Clifton Promise as a three-year-old in 2002 after he had been trialled as a racehorse, and has owned him ever since.

“I fell in love with him immediately,” said Frances. “He was like a lanky teenage boy with long legs and no control over them, so I have no idea why anyone even bothered trialling him on the racetrack. However, he was clearly going to make a great athlete and had an extremely generous eye. I knew he would need plenty of time to develop but was going to be an absolute superstar.”

Clifton Promise is the most generous horse you could find,” Frances added. “In fact, his biggest weakness is that he can try too hard and get worried if he doesn’t think he is being perfect. This makes him quirky and my belief in him was tested a few times by his early riders who thought he was too complicated to make it to the top.”

“However, I never doubted his star potential and he was the horse I told Jock Paget about when I invited him to come and ride for us in 2007. I said then that Promise could take Jock to the top of the world in Eventing.”

"I knew it would take an exceptionally dedicated and talented rider to bring out Promise's full potential and we were lucky to find those qualities in Jock."

“People often say to me how lucky Jock is to have the ride on Clifton Promise and I always answer the same way: Promise is just as lucky to have Jock as Jock is to have Promise. They have both worked incredibly hard to form a great partnership and bring out the best of each other. After all, they are both tall, dark and extremely handsome. They both have an amazing work ethic and are prefect gentlemen at all times. They really were made for each other.”

Clifton Promise is now 18 years old and is fit, healthy and is looking and feeling great. However, for the first time ever, he has been showing signs of his age in his preparation for competing at Badminton 2016.

"His recovery from fitness work and competition has not been as good as before and so his body was telling us something," said Frances. "Everyone involved at Clifton Eventers, along with Jock, has always said we would retire him at the first signs it was time to do so. We would never forgive ourselves if we kept going and he were injured as a result. This horse has given 100% every day we have owned him. He has changed Jock’s life for ever and between them they have given us enormous pleasure and joy."

The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials will host Clifton Promise’s official retirement on the final day of the 2016 event.

"The horse loves to show off in front of big crowds and it will be a fitting tribute to one of the great horses of the sport in recent years to retire at the event of his biggest triumph and one that means so much to all involved with him. We are extremely grateful and would like to thank the event’s Director Hugh Thomas and his team for this honour and privilege."

After Badminton, Clifton Promise will return to Jock’s yard in Wiltshire to live out his days there with the best possible care and attention.

"He thoroughly deserves the best of everything in his retirement," added Frances.

"Promise is the ultimate gentlemen. He has changed my life,” said Jock. “He will retire with me and I will take great pleasure in watching him in the paddock and riding him at home. It is a mark of a successful career to Frances, the team and I to be able to retire him happy and healthy.”

Jock will compete at this year's Badminton on his other ride, Clifton Lush.

See 45-minute compilation of Clifton Promise winning Badminton in 2013 here.

Supporting New Zealand eventing for over 15 years

For over 15 years Clifton Eventers has worked to build the reputation of the Clifton name, in the process supporting over a dozen young up-and-coming riders with quality horses and selling over 120 eventers with the Clifton prefix to riders around the world, including Olympic gold medallist David O'Connor.

Clifton horses have represented New Zealand on the world stage since 2001 – including Clifton Promise at the 2010 World Equestrian Games at Kentucky where he finished seventh out of 80 starters and again at the 2012 Olympic Games in London where he was part of New Zealand's Bronze medal winning team.

Indeed, Clifton Promise was the third-ranked eventing horse in the world in 2012, amassing 296 FEI points from just three FEI competitions.


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Monday 6 May 2013 — 2013 Title Winner: Mitsubishi Motors Badminton International Horse Trials CCI4*: Jonathan 'Jock' Paget on Frances Stead's 16.3hh Bay NZTB Gelding Clifton Promise 2013. Credit: Libby Law – Copyright: Libby Law Photography – NZL

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Clifton Promise at Badminton Horse Trials 2013

Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
4 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
5 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
5 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
5 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
6 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
6 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
6 May, 2013


Clifton Promise and Jonathan 'Jock' Paget
6 May, 2013


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