Land Rover Horse Of The Year 2024, Tomoana Show Grounds, Hastings, Wednesday, March 06, 2024. Credit: Kampic / Sarah Lord
Vicki Wilson rides Dakota VWNZ to win the Five Year Old Horse of the Year, Land Rover Horse of the Year 2024, Tomoana Show Grounds, Hastings, Wednesday March 06, 2024. Credit: KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

Vicki Wilson loves a good win, and even more so when it is about a youngster she’s bred and produced herself. Today, it was the turn of Dakota VWNZ, who took out the Five-Year-Old Horse of the Year crown after a super speedy seven-strong jump off.

Sixteen started the class which was a real showcase of the young talent New Zealand showjumping has coming through. The Roger Laplanche-designed course encouraged superb jumping while adding enough to challenge the combinations and allow the best to come through.

Vicki had two through to the jump-off, coming out first aboard Columbus VWNZ and setting a speed that forced the others to commit if they wanted the title. Her homebred stallion left everything up, crossing the flags in 47.07 seconds.  Next out was Sonya Benison and her very showy black stallion MF Starburst who met the challenge with a clear 42.97 second effort. The others chased it but it wasn’t until Vicki, who was last to go on Dakota VWNZ, that the time was bettered, despite a heart-stopping slip coming into the second to last line. The Hawke’s Bay combo took the win by a whisker, stopping the clock at 42.36, with Sonya second, Oliver Croucher aboard Jackpot NZPH coming in for third, and Vicki aboard Columbus fourth.

Vicki’s plan was never to push Columbus too hard, and she was more than happy with a fourth placing. It was just his fifth class after learning to jump in September. “He’s big and scopey but still so green so I just wanted a nice round,” she said.

“Dakota is just a freak,” says Vicki, “with the sharpest brain. I didn’t watch anyone else go and was just told the black horse was fast so I had to gallop.”

Vicki says she’s known the horse has always been special. “It’s nice to showcase that to everyone,” she said. “She can gallop, jump and just do everything.”

With some good friends in the USA, Vicki is sending Dakota to the States next season in what she sees as the next step in taking her breeding programme international and showcasing her youngsters.

“I am looking forward to campaigning in the States and hope she is the first of many.”

“It was great to win in a field of exceptional horses.”

She puts her ongoing success down to keeping all her horses fresh and happy. “Since Takapoto Dakota has galloped on the beach and swum in the river – she is definitely happy!”