Change of Pace, the in-hand Standardbred of the Year, and runner-up Ridden Standardbred of the Year, is lucky to be alive and also lucky to be at this year’s Horse of the Year Show.
The horse, nicknamed ‘Crash’, only just survived a serious bout of colic a little over three weeks ago. It was therefore an emotional win for Amanda from Reporoa, who really thought she was going to lose her precious boy. “The vet thought we may have to make that awful call, but I spent from 11.30pm until 4.30am walking circles with him until he decided he did want to go to HOY after all.” He recovered quite quickly after that, says Amanda, and he looked a picture today.
“He is one-in-a-million, and we have had a fantastic season,” she says. The pair won the in-hand title last year too.
It was worth the long trip up from Christchurch for the team associated with the new Ridden Standardbred of the Year, Natasha Bol’s Alshain. Alshain, known as ‘Earl’, is 10 and Natasha has owned him since he was ‘sacked’ as an unraced two-year-old. By Badlands Hanover, he came from Dean Taylor’s stables, along with his travel-mate, Meads Quaff, who is by the same sire.
Earl was known as Monkey when he was young as he is the most incredibly cheeky horse. “I left him in the paddock for a few years, and then I realised what I had been missing out on,” says Natasha, who intends taking him to dressage classes as well.
This isn’t Natasha’s first trip to Hastings: she came up last year with another horse, and has been up here one other time for a shopping expedition. “I aimed for the top three, but thought Meads Quaff would win, but you never know what will happen.”
Meads Quaff, ridden by Cantabrian Katrina Gosney, was definitely the favourite going into the final competition, having won the Paced class (both ridden and in-hand) and the Open Class. Unfortunately for Katrina, he decided in the final that he didn’t want to go nicely past some of the spectators (who had been there for the entire competition) and put on a fancy turn or two. “That’s horses,” said Katrina. “He’s lovely and he can be really good, but he’s a spunky horse and that is what makes him special.”
The judges, Maree Milliken and Jacqui Wadham, while disappointed they couldn’t award Meads Quaff the champion after that final performance, were very impressed with their winner and all the horses in the classes. “We’ve got beautiful quality horses here,” they both agreed. “Alshain had lovely conformation, and Natasha rode him beautifully. He had evenly balanced paces,” said Maree.
Claire Madden won the best handler with her horse Zanskar. The pair also won the ridden mannered class. Stacey Markham and J D Fortune won the ridden turnout, and Nigel Heron with Final Mission won the Best Rider. Cate Thomas’s Beautiful Dangerous won the in-hand mare four years and over, and Elaine van den Berg won the Novice class with Albertina Adios.