Land Rover Horse Of The Year 2024, Saturday, March 09, 2024
Luke Dee rides Gangster WW, to win the 4Cyte Premier Stakes at the Land Rover Horse of the Year 2024, Tomoana Showgrounds, Hastings, New Zealand. Saturday, March 09, 2024. Copyright Photo: KAMPIC / Kerry Marshall
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Luke Dee picked up his first-ever 4Cyte Premier Stakes victory this morning with the only double clear aboard Fiona Hall’s Gangster WW.

The winner of the class also receives the Tom Gadsby Memorial Trophy which was donated by Tom’s family in honour of the eventer and showjumper who died while competing in the United Kingdom in 2013.

“It is a real honour to have my name on that trophy,” said 30-year-old Luke who is the head rider for Mana Stables in Hawke’s Bay.

“I couldn’t be happier with this win. I knew there was a lot of jumping to do out there and Emma (Gaze, who was runner-up aboard Kowhai Bug). I had to be fast enough but quick enough in case I had a rail.”

He’s had Gangster for 18 months now. The German bred horse was bought through Irish showjumper Cian O’Connor. “We are really finding our rhythm now. It feels like the switch has just flicked and he is far more relaxed and calmer.”

Luke was chuffed to get the win for owner Fiona Hall. “She puts a lot into this. We are really excited for the future of Gangster. It’s been a slow burn but he is coming along really well now.”

He’s found Roger Laplanche’s course “pretty tough” but has enjoyed the show a lot.

Twenty-five started the class with three clears and three four-faulters coming back for the second round over another challenging Roger Laplanche-designed course.

Emma and her homebred Kowhai Bug laid the challenge mid-round. Coming in with four she knew she needed to leave everything up in a speedy time to push the clear rounders who would follow her. She’s known for her speed and didn’t disappoint, and when you add tight turns to the mix, she certainly put the acid on those to follow.

Matt Dickey and Fernando CSNZ looked to be going for the steady clear when a rail at number nine and another at the last meant eight faults in their 62.33 second round. Last to go was Luke who knew he had to cover himself with time but leave everything up.

He nudged the second-to-last right in front of the crowds at the VIP and bar ringside, but luck was on his side and he came home all clear in 57.99 for the win.

Emma was second, Matt third and Geordie Bull aboard the speedy Marius fourth.

For full results, head to www.evoevents.co.nz