Land Rover Horse Of The Year 2024, Sunday, March 10, 2024
Molly Smith rides Kabo Fortune Cookie to win the 2024 Pony of the Year. Sunday, March 10, 2024 Copyright Photo: KAMPIC / Kerry Marshall

It couldn’t have been a more exciting jump-off with three combinations going head to head after two full rounds of jumping in the Pony of the Year this morning.

Geraldine rider Molly Smith was first out aboard her new ride Kabo Fortune Cookie and knew she had to go clear and fast to put the pressure on Emily Oliver (Kapiti Coast ) aboard Doctor Jones, and Jade Miller (Canterbury) aboard Eleanor Rigby.

She posted the perfect result, going clear in 46.02 seconds. Next out was Jade who had two down in her 45.25 second round, followed by Emily Oliver who dropped the first fence to finish on four faults in a speedy 43.73.

Earlier, the 25-strong field had been whittled to six, with three clears and the fastest four faulters for the second round, where the top three then tied on eight faults, forcing the jump-off.

Molly Smith was lost for words. Having her top horse sidelined with injury just a month ago, she stepped Jessica and Karen McCann’s Kabo Fortune Cookie up to the top spot in her team. It’s no mean feat as Molly and Vapour Trail NZPH have won 10 of 11 pony grand prix starts this season and look to be unbeatable in the series. Today was just Molly’s second grand prix start on Kabo Fortune Cookie and they continued their perfect record winning two from two.

“I am shocked,” said the 15-year-old who took up the ride in late December. “I am so lucky to have the ride.”

The last time Molly competed at LRHOY was in 2018 when she won the Cat A Show Hunter of the Year way out the back of the showgrounds. “I never expected to win this. It is so special.”

The two had a challenging start to the show, taking a number of rails in the Saba Sam Teams’ competition, so she said she came into the top pony class with no expectations.

Helping her today was Jesse Linton who told her to just keep a cool head and ride it like any other class. “I was nervous watching the other two go as I hadn’t been that fast. It is amazing to win!”

She says none of it would be possibly without the support of mum Kelly Evans who trained her on a daily basis, with top-ups from Jeff McVean.

In winning the Pony of the Year, she has her name added to a very special list of riders on the Sommerset Fair Cup.

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