Land Rover Horse Of The Year 2024, Friday, March 08, 2024
Sophie Scott rides Benrose Stellar to win the Cavallino Silver Fern Stakes at the Land Rover Horse of the Year 2024, Tomoana Showgrounds, Hastings, New Zealand. Friday, March 08, 2024 Copyright Photo: KAMPIC / Kerry Marshall

Sophie Scott just popped herself up into prime position for the biggest class of the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show after taking the quinella in the Cavallino Silver Fern Stakes.
Roger Laplanche certainly challenged the nine combinations who lined up for the class, which is considered a bit of a gauge of what to expect for Sunday’s big one, the Olympic Cup.

But today, it was all Sophie’s way. She and Benrose Stellar were the first out in the opening round and were very unlucky to take the last fence for a total of four faults. The last fence – fittingly number 13 – proved to be the absolutely bogey of the track, falling nine times over the two rounds.  Sophie (Palmerston North) and her second mount Waitangi Skynet were the only combination to clear the last in the opening round but had two rails for a total of eight. Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and Florence also had eight faults in the opener, with Jake Lambert (Cambridge) and the rather exuberant Takapoto Alaid De Chez Nous on 12 faults and, much to the delight of the crowd, were the only ones to clear that pesky fence 13.

All nine combinations came back for the second round with Sophie clear on both her mounts on four and eight faults, for first and second, and Jake clear but with a single time fault for a total if 13. Norwood Gold Cup winner Kathryn Loiselle (Norsewood) steered Haupouri Drama NZPH to fourth, Logan Massie and his homebred Florence were fifth and Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) and Takapoto Tinka were sixth.

It was a very emotional Sophie who received the Ian Nimon Memorial Cup from Ian’s son Bruce Nimon.

“It is just an unreal feeling,” said the 22-year-old. “I am so happy with my horses. I am just stoked to win! It was a tricky track that was technical and big, but I loved it for my team.
She figured parts of the course were bigger than some of the World Cup classes they had jumped this past season.

“When I walked the course I was a bit sceptical about Stellar as we haven’t had the best build-up,” she said. “She’s a sensitive thing and the atmosphere has been tricky for her.”

But the course had suited the mare perfectly. “She jumped so well . . . actually better than I thought. We were just unlucky to have that last fence in the first found.”

The goal for Skynet was for a clear (in the opener) but it wasn’t to be. Coach Jeff McVean had simple instructions for her in the second round – just go clear.

“I was so relieved to win,” she said. 

It’s the first time she has taken a quinella in a big class and she’s hoping it is the start of something quite special.

“I am so looking forward to the Olympic Cup on Sunday.”

It will be her first ever start in the Showjumper of the Year class. “I would so love to get that trophy in my cupboard!”

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