HOY 2017 Deconstructed!

23 Mar

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HOY 2017 Deconstructed!

Horse of the Year is over for another season and it certainly will go down in history as one of the wettest HOYs ever. While the weather provided a disappointing backdrop, the show went on to crown the big show jumping titles on Sunday with Karaka’s Lily Tootill walking away with the prestigious Olympic Cup.

The crown jewel of HOY, the Olympic Cup is the class that show jumpers all over New Zealand dream of winning, and it was young Lily’s time to shine with her fabulous horse Ulysses NZPH. Fondly known as Ronald at home, the chestnut gelding bred by NZPH stud jumped well in very wet conditions and went double clear to take the win. The field was impressive indeed with twenty-one of the top combinations in the country lining up, and 2016 winners Helen McNaught and Carnutelabryere showed their consistency coming in second behind Lily. Helen had her big win of the week with the Aarts’ family’s LT Holst Aunty Annette taking out the Silver Fern Stakes on Friday afternoon.

Earlier that morning the Farmlands Pony of the Year was announced with South Island combination Steffi Whittaker and Moonlight Glow the only double clear. International course builder Werner Deeg built tough but fair courses under the conditions, taking into account the rain and wet ground.

The dressage title was hard fought and beautifully won by Abbie Deken on her gorgeous KH Ambrose, who was all smiles as the combination skipped around the Land Rover Premier Arena for their victory lap. The decision to cancel the cross-country phase of the eventing was made early Saturday morning due to the dangerous conditions and wet grounds making ambulance access difficult and meant that there was no Eventer of the Year crowned for 2017.

While the mud made for cancelled classes and shuffled timetables, it also heralded a massive mud fight on Saturday much to the delight of riders and spectators. The innovative Wilson sisters of TV series ‘Keeping Up With the Kaimanawas’ fame instigated the filthy fun and many joined in for a good laugh. Tractors were working overtime to pull trucks and cars out of the camping grounds but an overwhelmingly positive vibe stuck around despite the wet weather. It’s only the second time Horse of the Year has seen that much mud in the nearly twenty years it has been based in Hastings and though it makes for a difficult competition, trade was booming and did a great day on Saturday while it was too wet to ride.

Though Saturday may be remembered for the cancellation of the cross country and other show jumping classes, it also heralded dessert chef Adriano Zumbo’s debut at the event. His dessert degustation was a huge success with the VIP tent packed full of those keen to experience his creations alongside Harney and Sons Fine Tea. The five course dessert menu was beautifully complemented by delicious teas and the feedback was truly fantastic.The team is now looking forward to debriefing and getting stuck into the 2018 show.

Two from two for Kinnordy Go Girl

11 Mar

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Kinnordy Go Girl, ridden by two different members of the Thomas family, made it back to back wins in the Junior Showhunter of the Year class.

Galley, as she is known at home, is owned by Trudi Duncan, and has been campaigned by the Thomas family from Rotorua for several years. Tristan won the title last year and this year it was sister Claudia, 15, who emerged on top.

The combination had good form heading into the show, having won Open and Junior title classes at the North Island championships.

Mum Rachel said the family was grateful to Trudi for loaning such a special horse and wanted to thank her. “Without Trudi, Claudia wouldn’t be riding at HOY.”

Claudia was thrilled to win. “She was so good and smooth, she just feels like such a schoolmaster…I want to thank Trudi for letting me ride her, she doesn’t mind how we go, and that makes me a lot less nervous.”

In second place in the Junior was Isobel Vokes and Bizzie Beware, Megan Pearce and Waitangi Twitter came in third and Mollie Moffett and Kiwi Dula were fourth.

Rain Postpones Cross Country at HOY

10 Mar

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Torrential rain overnight and plenty more in the forecast has forced the postponement  of the cross country phase of the eventing at the Horse of the Year Show in Hastings.

Competition in the Land Rover Premier Arena has also been affected, with nothing being run until atleast after  midday.

There is extensive flooding around the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds where around 3000 people are staying on site in tents and trucks.



Plenty of Vision from Bovill

10 Mar

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A lovely clear showjumping round has seen Jackson Bovill and Visonnaire move into the lead in the FEI CIC3* eventing.

The Matangi combination sit in the box seat on 47.3 penalty points going into the final round tomorrow (Saturday), the John Nicholson-designed cross country.

“I am very happy,” said Bovill. “I just love my horse.”

Overnight leader Sarah Young (Tokoroa) and Leo Degas have slipped to fourth place after dropping a rail, to sit on 50.9. Samantha Felton (Cambridge) had three clears from her three horses, with Ricker Ridge Pico Boo in second on 47.6, and Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) on Pioneer Brass Monkey in third on 49.6.

Twenty-year-old Bovill posted a personal best in the dressage and was rapt with the efforts of his mare, and he is looking forward to the cross country.

“It is quite an attacking course,” he said. “It’s got bold lines and is well built. I’ll be sticking to my game plan and ride it as best I can.”

He’s picking the last combination in the cross country course as the toughest.

“It’s quite unexpected to have that at the end.”

This is the combination’s fourth 3* run. “She is pretty good across all three phases,” he said.

Bovill is studying marketing and PR at university while Visonnaire remains based with trainer Clarke Johnstone.

Bundy Philpott (Cambridge) and Tresca NZPH held on to their lead in the CIC2*, and sit on 40.6, with Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) and DSE Cluny moving up to second in 47.8 and Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) aboard Just de Manzana also moving up a slot for third.

‘Fire-breathing Dragon’ Wins Seven-Year-Old Title

9 Mar

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Melody Matheson never doubted for a minute that Graffiti MH would win the Dunstan Nutrition Seven-Year-Old Horse of the Year crown at HOY.

Twenty-nine started the class with seven coming back for the jump-off. There, just two could keep their slates clean – Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) aboard Mea I and Matheson on Graffiti MH.

Matheson was last to go and knew she and her stunning mare had to really pull one out of the bag . . . and they did, coming home .32 of a second faster than Tombleson.

“I knew I just had to beat Fraser (Tombleson),” said the 22-year-old from Hastings. ”I watched him go and thought it was doable . . . well, on my horse it was.”

It was a tough field though, and as Matheson says – all of those in the line-up has been hugely competitive this season.

Matheson and Graffiti have been at, or near, the top of the series leaderboard all season, nabbing a good win at the Christmas Classic and finishing second at the National Young Horse Show.

“I have been very careful with her. She does love to jump but sometimes she is like a fire-breathing dragon. She is quite sassy, with a lot of attitude, but that is what makes her so good. If she didn’t have that she wouldn’t have that much blood in her.”

But Matheson insists the mare is “sweet”.

Credit: KAMPIC/Kerry Marshall

Matheson first tried the horse when she was four but she passed her over, only to return a year later and buy the mare from breeder Judith Matthews from Matthews Hanoverians.

“The original plan was to on-sell her but we just couldn’t let go of such a good horse.”

The horse is part owned by the breeder, Matheson and Angela Miller – Matheson’s “other mother”.

“To win today is just the icing on the cake after such a great season. I know the horse is good, so to win is excellent.”

Matheson started Graffiti in her first grand prix at Dannevirke in early January and were rewarded with a second place to Maurice Beatson, who has been hugely helpful to the rider, and who sold her Conyers, the former dressage horse she will start in Sunday’s Olympic Cup class.

Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed either, with plenty of offers to buy Graffiti.

“She’s not for sale – she is a serious horse for the future. I would love to take her overseas if we ever get the opportunity.”

Matheson was trained as a youngster by Sue Thompson, who is still there to help when required.

It’s not the first HOY title Matheson has won either – in 2012 she won the Category C Show Hunter Pony of the Year aboard Co Cotton. She’s also been on numerous New Zealand young rider teams between 2013 and 2016.

Matheson is currently studying finance through Massey University part-time, allowing her to also focus on her riding.


Leo Degas Leads CIC3*

9 Mar

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Sarah Young and Leo Degas have the early lead in the CIC3* eventing at the end of the dressage phase.

The Tokoroa combination sit on 46.9 penalty points, with Jackson Bovill (Hamilton) aboard Visionnaire in second on 47.3 and Samantha Felton (Cambridge) on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo in third on 47.6.

Young was very pleased with the efforts of her 13-year-old, particularly as it is their first “proper” 3* together.

“He is normally pretty consistent on the flat,” she said. “I had a bit of a brain fade and made a course error but he is so cool and doesn’t get upset by much.”

Young has had the horse for three years. Dressage is his forte and she says the next two days will be “tough, but he is a good jumper”.

“He always gets me home safe and we’ll just try and go as fast as possible.”

Sarah Young. Credit KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

The 37-strong CIC2* is being led by Bundy Philpott (Cambridge) and Tresca NZPH who sit on 40.6 penalty points at the end of the dressage. Kimberley Rear (Kerikeri) and Delta Legacy are in second on 45 with Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) on DSE Cluny in third on 47.8.

The showjumping phase is on Friday followed by the cross country on Saturday morning.

Fashionista at HOY to Judge Dressage

8 Mar

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There are plenty of synergies between the fashion and equestrian worlds of Vittorio Barba.

“It is expression,” says the FEI 3* dressage judge from the Philippines.

At his Manila home, Barba rises early and as dawn breaks he is either riding his own horse or taking his first lesson. After lunch he heads to his other job designing mostly dresses for women for his own label Barba.

His love of fashion came from his Pony Club days, and grew from there.

Later this month he and two other designers have the honour of closing the five-day Manila Fashion Festival.

Barba is “married” to his work and spends a lot of time travelling, mostly to South East Asia and more recently to Australia and New Zealand.

This is his third visit to New Zealand – his first was as a showjumper in 1999 – and he’s hoping it won’t be his last.

His foray into dressage judging in 2011 came almost by accident, with his first “biggie’ at a World Cup qualifier in Burbank, California.

“I now need to get more experience to get the confidence to do 4*,” says Barba. “In dressage, with the connection between rider and horse, it is what you don’t see that you appreciate. It is a different language you are speaking to a horse and it responds.”

Horse of the Year 2017, Hawkes Bay A&P Showgrounds, Hastings, Wednesday, March 08, 2017. Credit: KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

He’s a rider from way back, and by his own admission, eventing was his first love. These days though he only jumps for fun. Barba loves his time spent with his students.

“I have a handful. It is very gratifying teaching and seeing them improve.”

He will be helping to judge all the FEI dressage classes this week, and is impressed by what he has seen so far.

“I am looking forward to judging a new set of horses,” he says. “Every new face is a good opportunity (to learn more). You judge what you see and it is fresh start each time someone comes into the arena. You have an impression before they come into the arena, and some are predictable but others surprise you.”

A Family Affair

7 Mar

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When Dylan Bibby rides into the show hunter arena at the 2017 Horse of the Year Show he is continuing a very special tradition.

His mum Kelly has not only ridden at the show, but can lay claim to being part of a record-breaking combination. She was the groom for Merran Hain (Gisborne) and Tregonning when they claimed a slice of HOY history. When Hain and Tregonning won the Olympic Cup in 2003, she was the oldest rider to do so. That has been nudged in recent years by Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), but not quite beaten.

It was the second time Hain and Tregonning had won New Zealand’s most prestigious showjumping crown.

Kelly looks back on it with plenty of pride, and now her 12-year-old son has dreams of his own.

This year he will again compete in the show hunter section aboard his lovely Daisy Patch (owned by Pam Hamilton and Lyn McPhail) – much to the disgust of his three siblings Leah (11), Amy (8) and Katie (5). All would dearly love to be competing at the prestigious show.

But his sights are set on the Pony of the Year crown  . . . and in years to come, the ultimate showjumping prize.

“He is aiming high,” says Kelly. “The Pony of the Year is his big goal for now, and he reckons he will be in it next year.”

Dylan is at mini prix level now and Kelly is confident the combination certainly have the talent to go far.

She should know, she’s seen plenty of top showjumping. For years she was Hain’s groom, and remembers back to when HOY was held in Karaka, Auckland. This year is the 19th year it has been in Hawke’s Bay.

“That first year they won the Olympic Cup, they also won Working Hunter of the Year and we won the best presented prize too,” says Kelly. “I have so many wonderful memories from HOY and my time with Merran. It was a fantastic time and I learnt so much – now I am trying to pass that on to my kids.”

The 1999 victory saw Hain go head-to-head with John Cottle (Auckland) aboard the legendary Super Moth.

“I will never forget it – Merran came around to the last fence and just put the pedal to the metal. She took out a stride and we were like ‘what?’. Super Moth was so on form that year and John had gone out first and just gone for it.”

She was there again when they won in 2003.

“Trigger (Tregonning) just gave everything for Merrain – I am not so sure he would have done the same for anyone else. He never got rattled and was always so composed and sure of himself.”

Kelly has also competed at HOY, but the last time was 2009 with her then four-year-old Piper’s Gift in the rising star park hack classes.

She would dearly love to get back into competition but says with four youngsters it is a big ask.

“My time will come back round,” she says. “At the moment we’re just very dedicated supporters of this crew. This is the most incredible sport and I love that we call all go out for a ride together.”

That ride can sometimes encompass three generations, when Hamish’s mum – and very proud grandmother – Lyn joins them.

“Equestrian may be a lot of work, but it is most definitely worth it.”

These days she and husband Hamish are busy with their crew – all of whom are students at Onga Onga School and will be there to watch Dylan ride . . .  and to dream of the day they too get to compete at HOY.

Dylan has recently also been named in the Central Hawke’s Bay Sports Academy and was filmed by Country Calendar for his breeding of black and coloured sheep.

“We head to shows with both sheep and horses sometimes, and need two trucks to get everyone there,” says Kelly. “Sheep are a whole lot easier to deal with though!”

Starry Field in Norwood Gold Cup

7 Mar

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It would be a brave person to pick the winner of the Virbac Equine Norwood Gold Cup today (4:15pm Land Rover Premier Arena)

It’s the first of the ‘biggies’ at HOY and a class held in high regard by riders, all keen to add their name to the cup which was first awarded to Joe Yorke and Challenge in 1967. Since then it is a real who’s who of New Zealand equestrian, including Olympians, World Championship representatives and World Cup finalists. Olivia Robinson (Queenstown) and Ngahiwi Cisco won the class last year, but won’t be back to defend their title.

However, there are 31 combinations are on the card, including previous winners Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) with five horses, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) with two and Simon Wilson (Waipukurau).

Also in the mix is Rose Alfeld (Christchurch) on My Super Nova, Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on Ultra Blue NZPH, Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) on Biarritz and teens Emily Hayward-Morgan (Te Awamutu) on AP Ninja and Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) on Fiber Fresh Veroana.

The Norwood Gold Cup. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

An Olympic Flavour

International Flavour at HOY 2017

Horse of the Year is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the southern hemisphere, and as such attracts notable names from all around the globe. 2017 will see international officials from Australia, Japan, Germany and the Philippines.

Dressage is one of the biggest disciplines showcased at the show, with the likes of Julie Brougham and John Thompson raising the section’s profile around the world with their international achievements. This year 4* FEI judge Jane Ventura flies in from Victoria, Australia, bringing with her recent experience from large shows in Tokyo, France, Italy and Spain. Incredibly passionate about dressage, Ventura has judged in Australia for more than 30 years and has begun to lend her time to educating future judges. The dressage section is also welcoming Vittorio Barba from the Philippines as part of their team of officials as well as Susie Hoevenaars as a judge.

In eventing again officials are hailing from all corners. A technical delegate and a steward – both very important roles on the officials team – are both flying in from Japan, and in several years will both be reprising their roles at the 2020 Olympic Games. Sukhdev Rathore will be visiting from India to take part in judging the eventing, though he often takes on other official roles in his work across India.

The showing discipline will also see judges flying in from the UK and from Australia. Though showing is big in New Zealand through frequent and popular A&P shows, it’s also a very popular discipline across the ditch as well as in the UK and parts of Europe. David Bartram and Chris Lawton have a long trip from the UK while Di and Harry Tunnicliffe will take part as the Australian judges.

Competitor wise, as always it’s unlikely that only Kiwis will be left to contest the impressive prizes on offer. Several top Australian show jumpers are proving interested at flying their horses over to take part, including recent Olympic candidates. Following Clarke Johnstone’s success at the Rio Olympics after his win in the 3* Eventing Horse of the Year title in 2016, there have been rumours that some Australian eventers are also keen to give the big title a crack. The popular mounted games section has also attracted interest from foreigners, teams coming from Australia and the United States to compete. While nothing is ever certain with horses, an international pool of riders always adds a bit of interest and creates a bit of mysterious competition amongst the riders.

International course designer Werner Deeg returns from Germany to build the big tracks jumped in the Premier Arena. His first trip to design at Horse of the Year was in 2016 and he came away pleased with the quality of the show, and of the horses and riders. Likewise, those who rode his courses enjoyed the challenge, with six days of exciting competition unfolding for the show. With previous experience at the European Championships and Spruce Meadows, Deeg boasts an impressive CV. Key to him is that the course reflects the horse’s natural movement, making his courses technical yet ground covering and jumped off a fairly forward stride.

Internationals Vittorio Barba

Vittorio Barba – International Dressage Judge

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