Gold Fever for Croucher

13 Mar

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Young Gun Oliver Croucher had the first big win of his career at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show this afternoon in a class steeped in tradition; the Norwood Gold Cup.

Riding his own Waitangi Surf, Oliver jumped clear in both of the two rounds, and nailed the win by having the fastest time in the second round against the other four who also recorded double clears.

The last to go, Briar Burnett Grant, last year’s winner of the Olympic Cup, looked like she had it in the bag but crash, down came the last fence. She ended up in 6th place. Another previous winner of the Olympic Cup, Lily Tootill and Ulysses NZPH finished second, 1.58 seconds behind Oliver. Brooke Edgecombe and LT Holst Andrea were third and Olympian Clarke Johnstone was fourth on Quainton Labyrinth. Last year’s Norwood Gold Cup winner Tom Tarver-Priebe was fifth after an unfortunate rail on Equifibre Popeye. That rail cost him another win as he had the fastest time.

“Insane!” was how Oliver described his win. “I don’t know what happened! This is my first ever win at the Horse of the Year!”

The 20-year-old coped well with the pressure of going into a competition with some of his heroes, riding with the goal of doing a clear round in preparation for his tilt at the Young Rider title on Friday. His win was a popular one, with plenty of encouragement from the side-line especially as he approached the last fence.

“I could hear the crowd roaring,” he said. “I dropped my reins at the last fence.”

Oliver has big hopes for the future. “I want to go as far as I can go. I am hoping it is all the way.” All he has ever wanted to do is showjump and ride horses.

The young rider is now based at Takapoto near Cambridge but doesn’t come from a background of horses. “My mum wanted to ride, but she was never allowed to have a horse,” he said. He got his start when his parents booked him into after-school care at a nearby farm which had horses in Kaharoa, in rural Bay of Plenty.

As for Waitangi Surf, Oliver says that she doesn’t know how to say no. “She’s quick, and I just have to let her do her job.”

The pair certainly did the job today, and was very deserving of their first win at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show

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