Advice On Song
Gisborne bred Ngahiwi Cruise has only ever started in three Fiber Fresh Junior Rider of the Year classes . . . and he’s won two of those.
Today, he and his very proud little owner Steffi Whittaker (Springston) won his second title – he was second in his only other start – and collected the Super Moth Trophy for their efforts.
Land Rover Premier Arena call steward Blake Keane may have made the difference when he gave her a little sage advice just before she went into the ring . . . “if you’re not going out there to win, I may as well take your entry fee and use it at the bar”.
She took it on board, and headed home 29 other combinations to take the win. Twelve came back for the jump-off where Whittaker was double clear in 41.41 seconds. Drew Carson (Putaruru) and Double Shott was just behind her, all clear in 42.22 with Laura Inkster (Auckland) and Cabana third on 42.44.
“I was really holding him back as he likes to go forward and is very strong,” said Whittaker, who turns 16 next week. “He was just loving it out there. I knew I had to keep going to beat the others.”
And she had also had a quiet pep talk from the horse’s previous owner, who said she had to make the top two to be consistent with Cruise’s other junior rider results.
“I did think we had a pretty good chance, but it was a big strong field.”
She has had Cruise for nearly a year and they have enjoyed a solid season with consistently good results in the junior rider series.
They also won the FEI World Challenge and on April 15 head to Morocco for the world final.
Whittaker has a big support team, including her coaches Duncan McFarlane and Helen McNaught-McFarlane, who won the Olympic Cup at HOY; her parents Trace and Jeff, and grandparents Judith and Lindsey Blackmore who travel to most shows to watch her compete.
“I am pretty lucky.”
Today’s title was actually Whittaker’s second at HOY – when she was just 10 she won the Shetland Steeplechase crown.
“It’s taken me a while to get a big title . . . this is just so cool!”
Fiber Fresh Junior Rider of the Year: Steffi Whittaker (Springston) Ngahiwi Cruise 1, Drew Carson (Putaruru) Double Shott 2, Laura Inkster (Auckland) Cabana 3, Courtney Townsend (Darfield) Suzy Fog 4, Alyvia James (Rangiora) LC Victorieuse 5, Georgie Mae Goodworth (Rangiora) Golden Mile 6.