Matisse Masterson riding Jay-Z GNZ to win the Elanco Junior Rider of the Year at the Land Rover Horse of the Year 2024, Tomoana Showgrounds, Hastings, New Zealand. Friday, March 08, 2024. Copyright Photo: The Art of Michelle Clarke

The moment Matisse Masterson sat on Jay-Z GNZ, she was in love . . . and today after winning the Elanco Junior Rider of the Year, she was even more enamoured with her bay gelding.

The 16-year-old from Ardmore was one of 13 to progress through to the second round where everyone knew, they had to be fast and clear. Some of the real speedsters in the field paid for their pace with a rails. Just Penny Borthwick (Masterton) aboard Nikama MVNZ and Matisse finished the class with clean slates. 

Penny, going one ahead of Matisse, had a life a few from home, but still set the bar with her 46.64-second effort. Matisse followed her and also had a life but her slick turns and fleet of foot saw her slice that time to 46.07 to take the win.

Last to go was Molly Moffatt (Christchurch) aboard Kingslea Couture who was looking to continue the South Island’s golden run and while she clocked the fastest time of the round with her 43.09 second run, her luck came undone at the last and she finished on four faults for third. 

“This is so exciting,” said Matisse. “It is such a hard class and I am so happy to have won.”

She’s had Jay-Z for two years and this is her first showjumping appearance at LRHOY having previously competed with huge success in the showing rings. “I always wanted to jump and would try and jump my show ponies but their legs don’t bend so well.”

She eventually convinced mum Deborah Ferris to get her a jumper and Nugget the pony joined the family. “I have to give it to him – he is the reason I am here.”

Nugget has gone on to find his own fame and has even starred in the Real Housewives of Sydney.

But back to the stars of today – Matisse and Jay-Z. “I begged mum to buy him and when she said he was mine I just cried and cried!”

They’ve had a brilliant season together and the goal for HOY was just to get round. “I didn’t have huge expectations at all.”

She and coach Oliver Croucher had a plan and she stuck to it. 

“It just means the world to win this. It is just so special.”

Now she is eyeing up young rider classes for next season. “I couldn’t do it without my mum and sister Paris. I am so grateful for all that support.”

Seeing 13 come back from the original 30 starters for the second round made Olympian John Cottle’s heart sing. He and wife Jackie donated the Super Moth Trophy for the winner of the Junior Rider of the Year class in honour of the very special little grey horse with a giant heart. 

It was John and others who formed the junior rider division after seeing a definite need in the world of jumping. “This is something I am very passionate about,” said John. “There was some really good riding out there today and to get that many clears today bodes well for the sport.”

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