Putaruru Teen Takes Big Red Trophy
There were tears aplenty when 18-year-old Drew Carson won the Dunstan Nutrition Young Rider of the Year aboard Winston V Driene.
It was a hard-won class, with 36 jumping the opening round, nine coming for the second and just two progressing to the jump-off.
It came down to a battle of the ladies, with Lily Tootill (Karaka) aboard Ulysses NZPH and Carson jumping off for the prestigious Big Red Cup.
Tootill was out first, and was going well until the Ultra Mox fence, coming home with four faults in 51 seconds. All the pressure was on Carson.
She and Winston V Driene gave the first fence a big nudge, but somehow it stayed up. They weren’t so lucky at the second, and from there on in Carson knew she had to really fly. They did just that, crossing the flags with four faults in 50.14 seconds.
“I’m a bit lost for words really,” said Carson, who hails from Putaruru. “I was so nervous, but I knew I just had to go clear. Once I took the second I knew I had to beat Lily’s time – we cut those corners and he really picked up for me.”
Ringing in her ears were the words of her coaches Duncan McFarlane and Helen McNaught-McFarlane.
“They tell me just to do my job, and not worry about anything else.”
She had walked the course in driving drizzle and knew the ground was cutting up prompting her to head back to the truck and tell her father Vance to put on the big studs.
“This is the highest point of my career for sure,” she said of her first HOY title.
But it hasn’t all been plane sailing. Carson has only had the horse a couple of seasons and they’ve been dogged by health issues. “He has a bit of a dust allergy and is an injury-prone horse. Thre have been a lot of ups and downs.”
The two won the Junior Rider crown at the National Championships in 2016 in Christchurch but were unable to compete at HOY the same year after getting a virus.
Carson fell off at the beginning of this season and was sidelined for a month after being knocked out cold.
She will compete aboard Double Shott in the Junior Rider class later in the show.
“This has given me a lot of confidence going into that class,” she said. “I do love Werner (Deeg) designed course – they are a great challenge and nothing you can just gallop around.”
Her short term goal was to win the Young Rider crown, and says she will now have to decide what’s next on her list.
“Winston is more than capable of World Cup rounds, so we will look to do that in a couple of seasons,” she said.
Carson has just started Waikato University where she is studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in bio technology with a second major in sport and human physiology