Jessica Collinson made a great decision when she purchased Ngahiwi Cruise just four months ago. The new combination took out the Fiber Fresh Feeds Junior Rider of the Year title today at the Land Rover Horse of the Year show.
“I am speechless,” she said afterwards, finding it hard to sink in that with having the only two clear rounds, she was the clear winner. Ngahiwi Cruise has won this class in 2016 with his previous rider, Steffi Whittaker, from Canterbury.
This year there were eight young riders called back to jump-off, six of them having recorded clear rounds in the first round, and two having four faults. Jessica rode in the jump-off in the pole position of last to go, having had the fastest clear round in the first round. She therefore knew what she had to do to win – go clear. All the other combinations were sitting on four faults by the time she came into the arena.
Jessica decided to take the risk and go for safety. The strategy was a zero or hero one, but it paid off as the pair jumped a beautiful clear and were therefore deserving on their win.
Wendi Williamson and Don Amour MH have won their first Dressage Horse of the Year today in Hastings.
Riding her New Zealand bred 11-year-old Hanoverian, the pair had to contend with a technical hitch in the GJ Gardner CDI FEI Grand Prix Freestyle which resulted in her music not playing for about two minutes. She still scored 74.45%. “It is very difficult to ride a musical without music,” she laughed. “That’s obvious but you do ride to the rhythm in the music and it does lift your performance.”
Wendi was also very impressed by the number of people who flocked to see the final competition. “There was no standing room, the place was packed and that makes it very exciting for us. My horse is usually very spooky, but he was really good, he coped really well.”
The next major competition for the pair is the Sydney CDI in May and then she will continue light training throughout the winter, to keep building the horse up.
This year’s Land Rover Horse of the Year show has produced some spectacular competitions throughout the six days but the final jump off for the Olympic Cup has to go down as one of the best.
Three very talented women who have been in fine form all show and all season featured in the final jump-off round but it was Te Awamutu’s Emily Hayward and her 9-year-old Australian thoroughbred Belischi HM who triumphed.
Tegan Fitzsimon was probably the hot favourite on the hard-to-beat 8-year-old Windermere Cappuccino and they jumped practically foot perfect in the first two rounds. They were first to jump-off and Tegan certainly set the competition up with another perfectly jumped round in what looked like a useful time. The pressure was therefore on the next competitor, local favourite Melody Matheson and 9-year-old Cortaflex Graffiti MH.
Melody delivered, cutting the corners, gunning it to the last fence, and cleared everything, with a time 1.5 seconds faster than Tegan but there was one more competitor to come.
Emily and Belischi HM had been a bit lucky over a couple of fences in the first two rounds, with the horse showing its inexperience, but he was on fire when it counted and they flew around the course half a second faster than Melody who therefore had to settle for second and Tegan third.
“He has a big stride,” said Emily afterwards about the horse she has owned since 2016. “I knew that if I keep him going, he is a lot faster than other horses.” When she first bought the horse out from Australia, plenty of people questioned ‘why the hell would you buy a gangly horse like that?” Emily said that it was “quite” satisfying to have won and proved her point.
Emily also won the Young Rider of the Year earlier in the show as well as last year on Yandoo Lady Gold. She had also previously won the Junior and Pony Show Hunter Horse of the Year titles, as well as the Aspiring Rider title a number of times. This was the fourth time jumping in the Olympic Cup so she was delighted to have won the top prize now as well.
“I was up against two of the best horses in the country so there was no point mucking around, I just wanted to give it a good go.”
Continuing her good form from earlier in the week, Nakeysha Lammers took out the Canterbury Equestrian Premier Stakes this morning at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show.
Nakeysha won the Alltech Horse 1.35m speed class on the first day of the show. “I can’t believe I won this too,” Nakeysha said. “He’s only 8-years-old, and he only just started jumping this height recently.”
It was a last-minute decision to enter him in this class. “He jumped super on the first day, and because he is in such good form, we decided to have a go!”
It certainly paid off, as the horse delivered again with a lovely clear in the first round. The pressure was on for the jump-off as there were two good clear rounds firstly from Helen Kippen and Velocity NZPH in a time of 58.25 and then from Julie Davey on Joligne de Carmel in a time of 53.95. Nakeysha was last to go in the jump-off and certainly set out to win, cutting all the corners, giving it her all. There were big cheers and big smiles when her winning time of 52.62 came up.
Nakeysha has lived in Taranaki for the last 18 months and was originally from Whangarei. She has had Balboa NZPH since he was a 3-year-old. Part of her prize was the Tom Gadsby Memorial Trophy.
Winning the Farmlands Pony of the Year for the second time was an amazing feeling for Olivia Apatu and her wonderful little grey mare Alazaan Arzu but they did it in style with the only combination to produce two clear rounds.
“It is pretty special,” said the 15-year-old. The win was tinged with sadness and when presented with her trophy, Olivia made a special mention of her father, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in June last year.
While Olivia has more time left on ponies, her partnership with Alazaan Arzu is coming to an end as she is going to another rider.
Olivia was full of praise for Werner Deeg’s designed course. He had also designed last year’s course so Olivia has declared him her favourite ever course builder.
As to the pressure, Olivia said she was lucky she didn’t really get nervous. “I knew the pony had it. I thought I had it, and then we did have it!”
Karis Spurway on Delta Le Camouflage was second, after incurring one time fault in her clear round in the second round, and Emma Watson on Maddox Fun House was third, with Ally Stevenson and Jakaranda fourth.
The Land Rover eventing cross country, designed by Auckland’s Chris Ross, was tough and proved a real challenge to so many competitors, including the star riders, Jonelle and Tim Price who both struck issues on their borrowed horses.
Amanda Pottinger on Just Kidding took out the win after a very accomplished round which was the fastest round of the day. She incurred just two time faults, taking her final score to 34. This was just ahead of the overnight leader, Maddy Crowe who had to settle for second, after incurring 7.6 time penalties and finishing on a score of 35.7. The pair looked very accomplished despite having limited experience at this level.
Amanda said that it was “pretty cool” to be named the Eventer of the Year. “Actually, I am over the moon,” she said. “The course was great, and I felt like we got a really good rhythm going.”
Amanda had finished second in the Australian 4* (now called 5*) class held in Adelaide last November and was a bit worried that ‘Ferg’ had only had one novice start in preparation for this class. “He was in the best form though. He was straight, honest and forward, and answered every question asked of him. He was foot perfect.”
Another who really clicked with his horse and looked superb was the legend Blyth Tait on Cor Jet, and they moved up into third place. The pair did have time faults which is understandable given that Blyth only rode him for the first time a few days ago, borrowing the big gelding off his normal rider, Chloe Phillips Harris. Blyth enjoyed his job and riding at the show. “He knew his job, and I was thrilled with his performance,” he said.
Tim Price ended up finishing in 7th place whereas Jonelle elected to retire after having two stops on course.
Land Rover 3* Eventing
Samantha Lissington described her horse Ricker Ridge Sooty as a superstar. “I was so happy with him, he was super. I had a few decisions I was trying to make along the way and I was more undecided than I am normally but he just committed to them when I made them. I just hope I was fast enough!” Sam did incur 2.4 time penalties, but it was still enough for her to finish the winner.
Monica Oakley on Festival stormed around the course and into second place with a clear round within the time. Amanda Pottinger also had a good round on The Comedian, incurring just 2.4 time penalties to move into third place. Overnight leader, Olympic champion and double world champion, Blyth Tait on Havana had a run-out early on course and then went for a safe but slower round so dropped right down the leaderboard.
Fellow Olympian Jock Paget had a dream ride and rode like a dream on Ricker Ridge Riley, a horse he has never ridden cross country before. “Sam said he is easy, you can trust him and he is straight, but it is hard to know how easy it will be but yes, he is so easy,” said Jock afterwards. “You just touch the rein and he comes back to you, put him on a line and he holds it, ride up to a fence and he trusts you, he is very, very safe. If my son ever wants to ride, I hope he gets a horse like that.”
Land Rover Horse of the Year’s visiting FEI Chairman from Taiwan is getting a first-hand look at how Hawke’s Bay stages the largest equestrian showpiece in the southern hemisphere.
Jack C. Huang, current chairman of regional Group VIII, represents 20 federations for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). Huang, an equestrian himself, has a passion for showjumping, which he endeavours to champion in his current role back home.
“In the early 1990’s I started volunteering for the Chinese Taipei Equestrian Association, gaining my place on the board, where my peers then elected myself as chairman of Group VIII in 2017”.
Group VIII covers many areas such as Pakistan, China and New Zealand.
This is Huang’s first time not only at Land Rover Horse of the Year but also to New Zealand, and his invitation came from Equestrian Sports NZ chief executive, Vicki Glynn. When asked what his first impression of the event was, Huang claimed the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the crowds at the show has already left a strong impression on him.
“Everyone at Horse of the Year has been so welcoming, which has really exposed the enthusiastic atmosphere.”
Amongst this, Huang emphasized that the Eventing discipline is something that has been inspiring.
“I would like to bring home how to incorporate the training facilities for cross-country phase, Taiwan is a small country, so unfortunately we are limited to accessible land, unlike New Zealand”.
Although a show jumper, Huang’s most anticipated class will be the 4 Star cross country phase of the Eventing held tomorrow where he plans to have a close eye on Olympic level eventers, Jonelle and Tim Price, Blyth Tait and Jock Paget.
Bayleys Young Rider of the Year
Emily Hayward and Yandoo Lady Gold won this title last year, and they have done it again this year albeit in sensational circumstances.
There were two riders who made it through to the jump off after two rounds in the Bayleys Young Rider class. Emily was first to go and when she had a rail down early in the course she thought she had handed the competition to the in-form Oliver Croucher on Waitangi Surf who had the other clear round. This combination had triumphed on Wednesday in the Norwood Gold Cup and were looking great over the first few fences but then disaster struck. Oliver jumped the wrong jump and was therefore eliminated, handing the win to Emily.
This is the sixth season Emily has competed on her lovely mare, and said that in the last three seasons they have really clicked.
“She isn’t the easiest horse at times, but she gives it her all.”
Understandably Oliver was devastated with his mistake, and said that he knew he was wrong as soon as they left the ground but by then it was too late.
“My horse wanted to jump everything clear, the rider just needs to remember his course!”
There was another hard luck story in the competition as Steffi Whittaker jumped two clear rounds in the competition riding On the Point Eve but incurred one time fault in the first round, so she had to settle for third place.
“I changed her bit today as she was a bit strong. It worked a treat. Yesterday we were one of the fastest, and this time I had more control, but went too slow!”
She was still delighted with her ribbon – “the first of my show!”
Steffi had hoped to be competing in the Olympic Cup class on Sunday on her stallion Eros K but unfortunately the horse was ruled out prior to the show with a short-term illness.
Elmo Jackson was fourth on Animation, with Sophie Scott on Lakato fifth.
Tom Tarver-Priebe and the wonderful Equifibre Popeye triumphed this evening in the Bucas Silver Fern Stakes at the Land Rover Horse of the Year show in front of a big crowd who cheered him all the way.
The jump-off was action-packed, and the pressure went on with every clear round, each faster than the one before. Tom was last to go and he cut all the corners, galloped where he could and raced down to the last. When he cleared that, the crowd went wild and so did Tom, waving his helmet to the appreciative audience.
“I tried to stay calm, and not let it get to me,” he said afterwards. “I do get a bit nervous but I still had to go and do the job.”
As to his nine-year-old horse, Tom described him as a “good guy” and “special.” The pair has had some good results recently, including this time last year winning the Norwood Gold Cup.
“I planned my season around this show. I didn’t jump much earlier on as I wanted to peak now.” Tom, from Kawerau, plans on taking Popeye to Australia at the end of April but before that, he has the Horse of the Year class on Sunday to compete in and he rates his chances.
“It’s anyone’s class but there are realistically about ten horses that could win it. Yes, Popeye is in that 10.”
The crowd also appreciated the talent shown by 16-year-old Annabel Francis from Taupo on Carado GHP. The pair jumped clear, cut as many corners as they could, but they were just not quite fast enough. She was however just a fraction faster than Cantabrian Tegan Fitzsimon on Windermere Cappuccino, who has been winning everything in his path this season, but today they had to settle for third place.
Cambridge’s Nick Brooks and Versace C were fourth, having incurred one time fault in the first round.
Funds raised for ground breaking spinal research exceeded everyone’s expectations at last night’s annual ESNZ Hall of Fame Awards, at the annual Horse of the Year Show.
A generous $13,400.00 was raised through some spirited bidding with all money generated going directly to the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust.
Auction items included a signed Tim and Jonelle Price chrome plated horse shoe, signed Black Caps bat and a guided Adventure pack with Wanaka based Best Foot Forward.
The hottest item of the night to top the auction was the signed Richie McCaw All Blacks jersey and World Cup rugby balls signed by Richie and former team mate Dan Carter.
Rotorua’s Kylie Needham-Roe was ‘fizzing’ to take home a piece of prized rugby memorabilia, but was quick to point out it was more for ‘hubby’ than for herself.
“Hubby likes New Zealand sports memorabilia so I thought it was a good purchase to appease him after spending up on horse gear at the show. Plus, we love to support charities, both in our community and nationwide.”
For CatWalk Trust founder and C6/C7 tetraplegic Catriona Williams MNZM it was a heart-warming night.
“It was a really special night surrounded by New Zealand equestrian royalty – young and not so young. We have some wonderful athletes in this country and it’s a fantastic evening to recognise their successes because it’s a tough sport and when it goes well it’s worth celebrating.”
Emcee for the evening Newstalk ZB’s Kerre McIvor did a great job parading the items invigorating the crowd
“High five to Kerre for working it for us in her usual Kerre style! We all love a great auction and I’m so incredibly thankful to everyone who got behind it.
“I can promise that the money raised will go towards the best spinal cord research that we can support. We’re very fortunate to have Professor Louise Nicholson on the CatWalk board who ensures we can enable our cutting-edge research to happen sooner rather than later,” says Catriona.
Catriona says having the support of some of New Zealand’s biggest sporting stars makes her incredibly proud to be a Kiwi.
“They are our rock stars and their support adds enormous value to our ultimate goal of getting wheelies walking again.
“The research happening is really exciting, we’re very close to clinical trials in Australasia and I’m proud that we all work together because ultimately we all want the same result – to get these legs working again. It’s possible it can happen in our lifetime and that’s our aim.”