Jonathan (known throughout the equestrian world as Jock) Paget was born in Wellsford in 1983, but moved to Sydney with his parents when he was three. He lived there until he was 19 and went on to do a bricklaying apprenticeship, which is far from the stereotypical background for a champion equestrian rider.
Paget began riding at the age of 18 and made good progress. However, the 2007 Australian equine influenza outbreak near Sydney curtailed his riding. Fortuitously, Paget was invited by Frances Stead, a former Auckland businesswoman and strong supporter of New Zealand eventing riders and horses, to return to New Zealand in September 2007 to become the principal rider at her Clifton Eventers base at Muriwai, north-west of Auckland. He was the eventer of the year at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show in 2009 and 2010. He was seventh at the 2010 world championships in Lexington, Kentucky. Paget moved to Surrey, England, and worked closely with fellow New Zealanders Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, as well as the British-based New Zealand eventing coach Erik Duvander.
The likeable Paget made a big impression at the 2012 London Olympics. He joined veterans Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd and other team-mates Caroline Powell and Jonelle Richards in securing a three-day eventing team bronze medal at Greenwich Park. In addition, Paget rode well to finish 10th in the individual section. Also in 2012, Paget rode Clifton Lush to fifth placing at Burghley.
He had a brilliant 2013, winning Badminton and Burghley on Clifton Promise. At Badminton he just shaded world, Olympic and European champion Michael Jung of Germany and Nicholson. He was only the second rider to win Badminton on debut and did it with a brilliant showjumping round after entering the final day in second spot.
However, in October 2013 Paget was suspended from competition after Clifton Promise’s Burghley test returned a positive for reserpine, a banned substance. Paget later said he had no idea how the drug – a sedative – came to be in his horse. He continues to investigate the cause of the failed test, which has shocked everyone in the equestrian world. In the meantime, it seems likely he will lose his Burghley title, which would then go to Nicholson, who was initially second.