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Nick Taliana Bags the Money

Feb 15, 2024

In a surprising turn of events, self-proclaimed “professional amateur” showjumper and builder, Nick Taliana, emerged victorious at the prestigious $1.45 million Majestic Million Showjumping extravaganza.

Initially selected as a reserve for the International Airfreight team, Wilberforce local, Taliana had made plans to attend the event with his family as spectators after accepting the fact that he didn’t make the cut. However, a few weeks prior to the competition, his fortunes changed when teammate Mel Blair withdrew, opening the door for Taliana to join the team.

As the fourth member of the team, alongside Robert Palm, professional jump jockey Jess Pateman, and professional showjumper Rhys Stone, Taliana felt the weight of expectations. He admitted, “I put a lot of pressure on myself because that team won last year, and I was just the reserve rider. I didn’t want to come out of the ring with people saying, ‘That’s why he was the reserve.'”

To rise to the occasion, Taliana underwent an intense preparation, cramming three lessons in eight days with former Olympian Greg McDermott. His determination paid off, and he noted, “I was on a mission to do as best as I can. I think the atmosphere worked for him and me. It was like the day was put on for my horse.”

Taliana said the event does throw up some surprises with the atmosphere better suited to some horses and riders than others. But he welcomed the enthusiastics crowd particularly as he completed the course. “It felt like I was at the Formula 1. It was a bit insane but pretty cool.”.

The victory held special significance for Taliana, who received his 10-year-old gelding “Des” as a wedding present from friends and fellow showjumpers, Andrew Inglis and Jenny Sheppard.

Almost ten years prior, Inglis and Sheppard were heading away for the night and approached Taliana with an unusual request. They asked him to keep an eye on an expectant mare, despite Taliana’s admission that he had never been involved in foaling down a mare before and was clueless about the process. Nevertheless, he agreed to assist as the mare was two weeks away from her due date.

In the early hours of the next morning, the mare went into labor, and Taliana found himself assisting in a difficult foaling process. The result was a foal named Nick. In a show of gratitude, three years later, Inglis and Sheppard decided to gift Taliana a foal. However, the choice wasn’t the “too” well-bred Nick but rather from two other options. Taliana ultimately selected Des.

Reflecting on the journey with Des, who has overcome challenges such as surviving two colic surgeries and a serious brush with a tree branch, Taliana expressed his satisfaction with the choice. “I’m pretty happy with that choice. He’s turned out to be a fantastic horse for me.”

While his $25,000 share of the prize money was undoubtedly appreciated, Taliana said that, for him, the win transcended monetary value. “It wasn’t even about the money. It was the fact that I was a reserve, and I went in, and there were only 5 clean rounds and under time out of the 50 odd riders, and I was one of them.”

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