Vale Jill Gould

The Canterbury Marlborough Westland branch of the NZTBA recently lost one of their stalwart members in Jill Marye Featherston Gould.

At 85 Gould had been an active member of the Association and a doyen of the dressage scene in Canterbury for many years. Until a stroke last year she resided at Sunfield in West Melton where she still fed horses each day and maintained a very large garden.

Gould grew up in the Wairarapa hill country and was the daughter of the late Ian McRae the esteemed breeder of the champion mare Leilani (Oncidium[GB]-Lei).

She moved to Christchurch with her pony to study at university, and there she met and later married David Gould of the well-known Pyne Gould Guiness dynasty and Master of the Christchurch Hunt. During this time she was the perfect hostess, made a number of great friends and helped a lot of young riders.

During the late 1950's she was instrumental in organising a demonstration of the new equestrian craze of dressage to hunt members, with Helen Holden giving the demonstration on the former Grand National winner, Bandmaster.

Due to her initial interest she found herself on the inaugural judges' panel, charged with developing the fledgling sport, and was heavily involved for a good number of years. After years as a judge, moving up through the grades to New Zealand's highest ranking List one, Gould was made a national selector. As a judge, Jill has had many highlights none more so than the opportunity to judge throughout New Zealand but also at the NSW State Championships in Australia and Hong Kong's National Dressage Championships. She continued judging until she was 75.

Gould not only had a good eye for a horse, she was a good judge of all stock. She also served for 15 years on the board of Dressage New Zealand and was also heavily involved with the National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island.

According to Canterbury horseman Brian Gliddon, who was a good friend of Gould's as well as a trainer of a number of her horses, she was always helping the young riders at the equestrian centre.

"She was a very good person always helping kids with their riding skills," he recalled.

"She was great fun, and really enjoyed herself, and the occasional glass of wine, she had a great personality and was well respected and admired by people in the racing game and in other equestrian fields."

When her father passed away in the eighties he left his champion mare Leilani to Gould and her sister the late Judy Glazebrook who resided in Hawkes Bay. Together they bred and raced descendants of Leilani under the Gouldbrook banner, selling successfully at Trentham and latterly at Karaka.

Leilani was the champion Australian galloper of the 1974-75 season. She won 14 races, including a Caulfield Cup, AJC Oaks, MacKinnon Stakes, Australian Cup and Toorak Handicap, all at Group One level. She also finished a game second behind Think Big in the 1974 Melbourne Cup.
She was prepared by master Australian trainer Bart Cummings who happened to spot her as a foal, when driving past MacRae's Masterton farm and wanted to buy her then and there.
MacRae wouldn't part with Leilani but agreed to lease her to a group of Australian clients of the Cummings stable and the horse never raced in New Zealand. Cummings paid her the ultimate compliment by naming his stables Leilani Lodge after her.

Leilani herself left five foals, three of whom were winners including the Stakes placed Silver Lei (by Silver Dream[GB]). Gould and her sister bred her last foal Skylarking (Twig Moss [FR]) who didn't win but did produce 10 live foals who all raced and she produced six winners including the Group Three Ipswich Cup winner Forest Jim (Grosvenor) and the Stakes placed Jeurga (Kaapstad). A full brother to Jeurga, Aintree is still going around as a 12 year-old and has won 11 races over fences. While Pheasant (Thorn Park[AUS]) has won five races, and Blackbird (Cecconi[AUS]), her last foal has won one race and been placed twice from three starts.

Dolly Disaster (Twenty Four Karat[USA]- Leilah) who is out of a full-sister to Leilani, was another mare that Gould and her sister had a bit of luck with she left 11 winners.

Gould is survived by her two daughters, Jenny and Mary and a son George and many well-loved grandchildren.

A speech made by Jenny Cochran at Jill's 80th birthday.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all here today, to help us celebrate Jill's 80th birthday.

Celebrating these milestones in life, gives us the opportunity to thank our friends for being there for us, and to appreciate and enjoy each others company. It's the people around us that make all the difference to our experiences. So, thank you all so much for coming, each of you here represents one long year in Jill's life!

Jill was born on a farm in the Wairarapa, to loving parents, and sister Judy to whom she was and still is, very close. At the age of 5, Jill went off to boarding school and remained there for her entire schooling. Holidays were shared between Wellington where her mother was living, and Weraiti just out of Masterton where she loved the country life, and adored that fabulous maori pony, Kingfisher, they were inseparable. His portrait is with Jill on the invitation which Sandipa so cleverly put together.

With the intention to get Jill to use her considerable artistic talents, her mother enrolled her into a Fine Arts Decree at Canterbury University. So Jill and Kingfisher traveled south…actually, they never returned to the North Island to live, nor in the conventional sense did Jill use this degree. I wonder if Grannie MacRae foresaw these things, she certainly never ceased trying to take care of Jill from a distance.

Unfortunately Judy, Jill's sister is spending a sojourn in hospital following a fall, and is not able to join us today, however she is here in spirit through her lovely daughter Penny. Penny and Johnny Reynolds live in Gisborne and also look after Washpool Station in Hawkes Bay, Judy's home. We are so happy they have been able to take this time out of their hectic schedule to be with us. Pens … I wondered if you might say afew words on behalf of Judy and your family….

By looking around us we can see that Jill has managed to keep her family together, and close to her. There seems no end to the love, friendship, generosity and support which Jill offers to us all . . . she is so positive and has demonstrated an extraordinary strength in times of adversity which is mind boggling… as is her physical strength, vivacity and lifetime of sheer hard work. When we look at Jill's interests over the years, she has been or is passionate about the lot! It doesn't matter if it is Boating or bridge, crayfish or corriedales, dressage judging or helping, farming, fishing, family or friends, gardening or maintenance, hockey, hunting, heifers or horses, McLeans Island, racing or breeding, riding or rugby, showing, singing or socializing… or travel, the passion, the positiveness, the get up and go, the support and help for others is always there…

We are lucky also to have with us a travel companion extraordinaire, Tiny White. Tiny has traveled the globe with Jill, attending Olympic games, World Equestrian games, sailed down the Nile, the Danube, railed through the Rockie mountains, … with Tiny's long legs and physical prowess, I am sure she was a hard act to follow for Jill, even with well matched enthusiasm.

We all know Jill and love and appreciate her qualities. I am sure her interests will continue to flourish for many years because she has always participated with exuberance, and shows a remarkable willingness to try something new, to have a go, .. that's what makes it exciting to be around her.

She often says "everywhere I look" someone or something needs me … consequently, the lights are on from 7 in the morning to 9.30 at night, every day filled to the brim!

As we grew up … facing our challenges… her advice would often be "JUST DO YOUR BEST. I think someone must have said it to her as she grew up too, because she always does her best. And I think all of us here would agree, it is a great to be a friend of someone who lives life this way.

- Michelle Saba


This product has been added to your cart