Life as a competitive rider cannot go on forever, as with age come myriad reasons why riding at the top level can come to an end. Not only with riders, but with top horses. It is always interesting to hear the progression of these riders and follow their path in their equestrian pursuits.
George Sanna needs little introduction. Born in Perth, Western Australia, he went to school there before moving to Melbourne with father Captain Harry Sanna, mother Ditti, and brother Harry.
George’s father was a serious horseman in Hungary before emigrating to Australia after World War II. With his cavalry background he became a very well-respected riding coach, and of course George followed in his footsteps, becoming one of Australia’s leading showjumping riders.
George studied law at Monash University and Tasmania University (where they moved for about four years) and has a law degree and did his articles in Sydney. Not that he ever practiced; showjumping was his life and passion. He married his first wife, Sue Steindl, in 1975 and they lived in Oakville, NSW. In 1977 they bit the bullet and took a showjumper named Tric Trac overseas. They stayed in the United Kingdom and competed for a short time in England, before heading over to Europe. Tric Trac, who was an off-the-track thoroughbred, competed in the Nations Cup at Rotterdam before being sold in Belgium shortly after.
They returned to Australia and shortly afterwards bought the Oakville property, where they coached, ran clinics and had a succession of horses that were turned over, and rode the famous jumper Johnny Mac for a while as they established themselves. Equestrian Bloodstock Agency (EBA) was established in 1983 and was based at the Oakville property with partners John McMillan and Rod Brown.
Seven years later it was a new set of thoroughbreds for George, in King Omega and Kite. He set off to Europe to compete in the World Cup Final in Gothenburg in early 1984, and then went on to represent Australia at the Los Angeles Olympics that year. King Omega was bought by Alan Bond in 1983, with the view to George riding him at the Olympics and then Alan’s daughter Suzanne would take over the ride. George actually rode his own horse, Kite, at the Olympics and for team reasons Jeff McVean rode King Omega. On returning, EBA grew and developed a very strong performance horse export business to Asia, particularly to Japan where they were selling over 50 horses a year.
SUCCESS AT CHATHAM PARK
Chatham Park was purchased by George and his second wife, Jenelle, in 1986. Chatham Park is a 42-acre property at Glossodia, about an hour’s drive west of Sydney at the foot of the Blue Mountains. John French and Graham Campbell of Lojon Pty Ltd originally developed the property; Colleen Brook produced horses for them with the most famous being Carlbrook Rebound.
During this time George and Jenelle had a son Harry, who was never interested in following his father’s passion but has become a talented videographer, director and journalist, recently producing an amazing documentary on his experiences embedded with the American troops in Afghanistan. Trauma is available via iTunes and a range of other video streaming services.
For the Seoul Olympics in 1988, George took EBA Schnapps and Rod took the thoroughbred mare EBA Slinky, who was subsequently sold to George Morris. The following year George Sanna won the World Cup League with Schnapps in Australia and went to Tampa, Florida, for the World Cup Final. The horse was subsequently sold to Michael Matz, the leading USA rider at that time.