Mud no worries for Ulysses NZPH
Young Karaka rider Lily Tootill couldn’t have asked for better preparation for her upcoming trip to Australia, lifting the prestigious Olympic Cup at Horse of the Year Show today with the only double clear.
If the 20-year-old and her 9-year-old chestnut Ulysses NZPH felt the pressure jumping last in the second round they didn’t show it, leaving all the rails up to record the biggest win of her career.
“I don’t really get nervous, I get quite excited. I was dancing around the practice ring, I’m happy that I get to go out there and try again,” she explained.
“I’m ecstatic. I didn’t think it was impossible (to win), at the end of the day it is anyone’s class to win.”
Yesterday’s deluge meant the ground conditions were testing, but a packed grandstand appreciated the jumping from some of the best showjumpers in New Zealand this afternoon, despite the trying conditions.
“My horse is a bit of a mud lark, he felt pretty happy out there, he didn’t feel any different to normal.”
With the weather playing its part in the competition, and rain starting to fall again just as the class began, riders were given the option to jump a practice fence in the ring, before commencing their round.
Twenty-one started the two-round competition over the course built by German course designer Werner Deeg. The going was tough and certainly took its toll on the horses and riders, with rails falling around the course.
The crowd went wild when Tootill and Ulysses NZPH delivered the only clear of the first round.
Those on eight faults or less, nine combinations, came back for the second round over a shortened course.
There were five clears in the second round, Samantha Morrison and Biarritz and Katie Laurie with On the Point Eve, both carrying eight faults, and Maurice Beatson and Mandalay Cove and defending champion Helen McNaught with Carnutelabryere, who both bought four faults forward.
McNaught stopped the clock in 58.6 and Beatson was also clear but slower, in 61.19.
Tootill came out knowing she had to jump clear, but if not she needed to be faster than McNaught. “The time was quite tight, which helped me keep things flowing, as I wanted to be inside the time.”
In the end all the rails stayed up, with McNaught and Beatson second and third respectively. Laurie was fourth, Morrison fifth and the youngest competitor, 17-year-old Emily Hayward-Morgan and AP Ninja were sixth.
Tootill had a great show, also coming second in the Young Rider of the Year and sixth in the Lady Rider class, but it was the Olympic Cup that really topped it all off.
She had plenty of praise for her horse, who she described as her best friend. “I actually know what he’s thinking just by looking at his face. He’s more a pet than a sport horse.”
The combination is also part of the New Zealand team that will compete in Australia later this month, and today’s win gives her plenty of confidence heading into the tour.