Natasha Brooks kept a cool head to guide her former racehorse Kapattack to victory in the Country TV World Cup Premier League at the Fiber Fresh Christmas Classic in Taupo.
The opening round over the Gary Sinclair-designed course produced just two clears from 22 starters – both from former series winners and Olympians: Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) aboard Mandalay Cove and Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) aboard Dunstan On The Point Eve.
Judges called back 13 combinations with 12 faults or less, with the only clear of the round coming from 19-year-old Lily Tootill and Ulysses NZPH.
The pressure was on those with fewer faults when Natasha and Kapattack, and Carissa McCall aboard Esteban MVNZ, both carrying four, added just a rail apiece to their tally. Carissa also picked up a single time fault, but it left the two riders on eight and nine respectively.
Katie and Dunstan On The Point Eve were the first of the clear rounds to return to the ring but took two rails, and added a time fault to finish on nine. Things didn’t go Maurie’s way either when he returned with Mandalay Cove, and he picked up 17.
It gave a very special win to Natasha and Kapattack, at their first World Cup start of the season and just their third show. “He had a few niggles and that kept him out at the beginning of the season, so for him to come back the way he has just means everything to me,” she said.
They were unlucky to take the second to last fence in the first round, and when Natasha’s plan to go clear in the second went array, she felt she could be still in with a chance of a place . . . but then everyone else who followed her also had rails.
“He is such a good boy,” she says of the 11-year-old Kaapstad gelding, who she has had since he was four.
“I really thought Kate would go clear, and you can never count Maurie out. It was very hot out there for the horses today and I think that played a big part. That’s where being a thoroughbred helps – he may not be that jumping fit but he always has so much in the tank and goes out there and tries so hard for me. I am super-proud of him.”
The World Cup this season was always on Natasha’s radar, so she was disappointed to not start earlier, but with a win at the business end of the series, she’ll definitely be starting at the next two.
“I really wanted to win another World Cup this season, and thought this would be a nice warm-up for the last two rounds of the series. I just didn’t expect to win today with such a big field and not having had a start.”
Natasha had plenty of praise for course designer Gary Sinclair.
“I thought it was really fair for the number in the class and it rode really well. The ground was amazing and the committee have done a great job. It looks super-international and world class. Everyone involved has done a fantastic job.”
It is Natasha and Kapi’s second World Cup win – their first being at Dannevirke in the 2015-2016 season. And while Kapi may have been too slow for the race track, he did try to re-enact his youth during prizegiving by lapping anyone he could.
Their victory was one Natasha shared with all involved with her. “It is just the best feeling in the world that we have so much trust in each other. There will definitely be celebrations tonight – it is such a tough sport, I think it is important to celebrate the successes.”
Designer Gary Sinclair said he felt his course was “right up there” but a fair test for the riders in the class. “There are some good interesting distances (between fences) which they need to handle if they want to go overseas,” he said. “There’s no dumbing down here.”
The New Zealand World Cup series runs over six rounds, with the best four to count for each rider. It started in Hawke’s Bay in October, and was followed by indoor competitions at Mystery Creek and Feilding. After this weekend’s Taupo round, competition heads to Dannevirke (January 6-8), before the grand final at Waitemata (January 14-15).
The winner of the New Zealand league has the opportunity to represent the country at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2015/2016 Final which is being held in Omaha, Nebraska, in the United States, from March 29-April 1, 2017.
Country TV World Cup (NZ series): Natasha Brooks (Cambridge) Kapattack 1, Carissa McCall (Auckland) Esteban MVNZ 2, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) Dunstan On The Point Eve 3, Tess Clark (Auckland) Sinatra II 4, Lily Tootill (Auckland) Ulysses NZPH 5, Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) Biarritz 6.
Cortaflex Seven-Year-Old Series: Melody Matheson (Hastings) Graffiti 1, Jesse Linton (Hastings) Popeye 2, Daniel Blundell (Ocean Beach) Athena NZPH 3, Natasha Imeson (Hikurangi) Absolute NZPH 4, Kate Hewlett (Kerikeri) Capatino GNZ 5, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Gold Locks 6.
Mitavite Six-Year-Old Series: Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Roman Warrior, Catherine Cameron (Cambridge) Lillyberg SL, Ally Carson (Putaruru) Letano, Karen Bruce (Masterton) Double J Breeze On, Catherine Cameron (Cambridge) Kingslea Couture, Danielle Maurer (Auckland) Le Bam, Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) Lady Gaga G, Abby Robinson (Ohaupo) Hillman Hunter, Duncan McFarlane (Taupo) Be Mine NZPH and Danielle Maurer (Auckland) Yalambis Gucci Girl =1.
East Coast Performance Horses Five-Year-Old Series: Sally Steiner (Tauranga) Cartoon NZPH, Emily Hayward-Morgan (Te Awamutu) Delicious HM, Georgia Massie (Dannevirke) Double J Beyonce, Kate Hercock (Otane) Whimsical WDS, Karen Bruce (Masterton) Double J Promise, Matt Irvine (Takapau) Indeed, Helen Kippen (Ocean Beach) Commander NZPH and Victoria Rattray (Pokeno) Lara CSNZ =1.
FMG Young Rider Series: Mikayla Herbert (Rotorua) Grand Caballo 1, Sharnaye Lammers (Hikurangi) Romeo NZPH 2, Laura Inkster (Auckland) Oporaes Jackamoe 3, Nakeysha Lammers (Hikurangi) All Expenses of Renton 4, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Fiber Fresh Veroana 5, Keean Cooper (Te Kauwhata) Amarula MVNZ 6.
Lincoln University Junior Rider Series: Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Fiber Fresh Cormina 1, Oliver Croucher (Rotorua) Waitangi Surf 2, Brayden Aarts (Auckland) Puma des Hayettes 3, Olivia Forster (Hamilton) Stone River Goodness Gracious 4, Greta Van Den Brink (Auckland) Silver lady 5, Blake Davis (Palmerston North) TM Marjay 6.
Let’s Bale Pro Amateur Rider Series: Lucia Voss (Kawerau) Treasure Blue NZPH 1, Emma Gaze (Cambridge) Woodland Bug 2, Kate Hewlett (Kerikeri) Capatino 3, Rosie Commons (Auckland) Athena GNZ 4, Caroline Sutherland (Whakatane) Letty 5, Megan Schischka (Waiwera) Hollywood Wannabe 6.
Caledonian Holdings Amateur Rider Series: Emma Deadman (Taupo) Avichii AF 1, Rebecca Roigard (Auckland) Gazelle 2, Tracy Mason (Napier) WP Stella 3, Tanya Dickey (Taranaki) Barcelona 4, Torey Bartlett (Taupo) TLB The Waipaoa Eddition 5, Caroline Sutherland (Whakatane) Layla MVNZ 6.
Main Events University Series: Melody Matheson (Dannevirke) Conyers 1, Rebecca Porter (Hawke’s Bay) Kiwi Jet 2, Bryony Smith (Waimauku) Ngahiwi Warrior 3, Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) Frangipanne de Toxandria 5, Maddison Marshall (Auckland) Chances 6.