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