Olympic Cup 2019
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.”