Show jumping, cocktail parties and celebrations

The rave reviews of the venue continue at Takapoto Estate and the action continues today with the Grands Prix for ponies and horses

Cheers! (L-R) Richard Sunderland, Bruce Goodin; Richard Gardner (behind), Daniel Meech; Jaime Campbell, Kate and Mitch Plaw, Samantha McIntosh and Vaughn Jefferis (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Saturday at the Takapoto Estate saw some great show jumping as well as a photo shoot from a helicopter and a very swish cocktail party enjoyed by all – good to see the 300 or so attendees dressed up so finely!

In the evening’s speeches, Takapoto Estate owners Mitch and Kate Plaw were applauded for their efforts in establishing a world-class venue and putting on an event that both inspired and amazed spectators and competitors alike. The couple were, however, quick to share a lot of the credit – including to show director Jaime Campbell, who led the many people involved in putting on such a event.

Kate and Mitch Plaw present Jaime Campbell with flowers to celebrate her recent engagement and the success of the show (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The Plaws’ equestrian involvement began after a dinner with Vaughn Jefferis. “It was a night when he was thinking of making one of his comebacks,” said Mitch. “Vaughn introduced us to the entire sport.”

Before long they were sponsoring Sam McIntosh, and pretty soon they were buying horses in Europe and heading to international shows. Sam moved back to Europe and the Plaws became entrenched in show jumping. It was while they were at a large French show that the masterplan took another step forward.

“I was awestruck at what they do, how they do it and why the sport attracts the people it does,” says Mitch, who saw an opportunity to do something similar and do it well. “Now we have a facility to work with. The challenge I want to lay down to the sport and the people who make the sport happen –  what we have done here is the opportunity to leverage the sport. Have a long hard think about how that needs to happen.”

Cocktail time at Takapoto Estate (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Mitch said he was happy to host more shows at the venue, but called on the support of ESNZ. “The sport needs to have a think about what it wants to achieve.”

The Plaws were involved in “a fair number of sports”, including cycling, rowing and the Black Sticks (hockey). “When you look at those organisations, they all want be number one,”  says Mitch, adding that Takapoto Estate is not just about bricks and mortar but about ‘cranking the sport into life’.

“Hopefully, some people will do that and maybe we can start winning a few of those gold medals. That is my challenge to those in the sport who would like to take that up with me.”

The cocktail party’s gorgeous setting (Image: Libby Law Photography)

To make the occasion even more special, the Plaws flew New Zealand’s Abu Dhabi Nations Cup winning team in for the weekend. Samantha McIntosh, Bruce Goodin, Daniel Meech and Richard Gardner say it was very special to come home, celebrate and soak in the atmosphere at this fabulous new show. Bruce is excited for the future of New Zealand show jumping. “It is amazing what is being done here for the sport – it is raising the standard to another level, making a world-class venue here for show jumping,” he says.

Daniel says the team appreciate the support they continue to receive from New Zealand. “It has carried on from the final in Barcelona. After the win in Abu Dhabi it was hard to keep up with all the messages,” he says.

Sam McIntosh and Malarkey finished third in the 5yo class. Leading them into the arena for prizegiving are Richard Gardner, Bruce Goodin and Daniel Meech (Image: Libby Law Photography)

For Richard Gardner, it is all a bit of a dream. “It’s still hard to come to grips with the whole thing. It is something you dream about all your life . . . to hear your national anthem like that. I watched it a week later and just thought ‘wow’.”

ESNZ board chairman Richard Sunderland congratulated the team. “They have had to do much of it on their own and it can be a tough sport to be in,” he said. He also
acknowledged the commitment and dedication of the Plaw family and shared some great news.  “Directly as a result of their win at Abu Dhabi, we are delighted to let you know that New Zealand has been allocated a wild card entry to the Rome Nations Cup in late May.”

Part of the entertainment at the cocktail party was a teams event. The first round saw Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay finish on four faults, Auckland and Taranaki on 12 apiece, Central Districts on 24, Waikato on 34 and Bay of Plenty on 42. Just the top four came back for the second round, where Auckland snatched the lead to finish on 16, Taranaki stepped up to take second with 32, Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay were third on 40 and Central Districts fourth on 44. Central Districts won the overall crown with 19 points, Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay and Auckland tied for second with 18 points, Taranaki was fourth with 15 points, Bay of Plenty fifth with 13 and Waikato and Wellington tied for sixth with just two points each.

Central Districts take the overall title for the Team Competition (Image: Libby Law Photography)
Auckland take the last class in the team contest (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Earlier in the day, the Bronze Horse Tour 1.2m Qualifier saw best mates Matt Irvine and Emma Watson at the front of the field. Sixty-five started the class, and 14 finished with clean slates. Matt and La Perla led the field home in a smart 27.19, with Emma and Maddox Kiwi Silverkee stopping the clock at 28.1. Leeshelle Small and AMS Mr Muscles came in for third in 28.9, Rebecca Roigard and Gazelle fourth in 30.92, Tess Clark and Cadbury fifth in 30.96, Oliver Croucher and KPH Stow Away sixth in 31.25, Emma-Kate Wilson and Bjorking seventh in 32.56 and Duncan McFarlane rounding out the top eight aboard Be Mine NZPH.

NZPH rider Alex Loiselle scored the biggest win of his riding career in New Zealand today, taking out a very speedy Seven-Year-Old Breeders Final aboard his own Bandito NZPH (by Consul de la Vie Z out of Manon des Souches), a horse he bought just this week. Just three of the 14 starters came through the first round with clean slates. Alex was first out and set a cracking pace, notching a super clear in 41.36 seconds. Catherine Cameron and Kingslea Couture (by Lansing out of Kiwi Courage) were next, and right from the start showed they were in it to win it. They threw everything at the jump-off but came up slightly short when the last fence fell, though they stopped the clock at 40.26. Elle Phillips and Cirrius GNZ (by Cassius GNZ) came out for a careful round, but were also unlucky at the last, finishing with four faults in 44.3 seconds. Alex is ecstatic with the win. “This is very special,” says the Canadian rider. “The invoice only went through two days ago, so this is my first show as his owner. He is the fastest horse I have ever ridden and I am sure he has a great future. This reminds me of riding at Spruce Meadows – it is fantastic.”

Alex Loiselle and Bandito NZPH win the 7YO Breeders Final 1.30m (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Nicola Smith had a great win in the Junior/Amateur Horse Tour 1.1m Qualifier aboard her horse Verdant Blue NZPH. “I am super-stoked to beat the speedy young ones and Merran Hain,” she says. “This is my first-ever amateur win after quite a few years of competing. I am just buzzing.” She was the last to go and took the class by just 1/100ths of a second. Coming in for second was Vanessa Veart-Smith aboard Jedi Skywalker, with Joanna Falloon and Mustangs Mack third, Shyanne Eagle on Castano II fourth, Olivia Apatu and Astek Napoleon fifth, Merran Hain and Untouchable sixth and Catherine Fawcett-McNaughton on Golden Girl MVNZ seventh.

Nicola Smith and friends celebrate her win on Verdant Blue NZPH in the Junior/Amateur Horse Tour 1.10m Qualifier (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Rachel Malcolm figures Monte Carlo MVNZ is coming into his own. The New Zealand Sporthorse, who is by Indoctro out of Auburn Princess MVNZ, fairly flew around the 10-strong jump-off of the Six-Year-Old Breeders Final, coming home clear in 41.52 seconds. They were third to go in the jump-off and while William Willis and Cassera MS (by Cassini II out of Gold Diva MS) chased hard, he couldn’t quite match her time, coming home clear in 42.02 for second place. Third were Sally Steiner and Cartoon NZPH (by Cabdulla du Tillard out of United Blue), fourth went to Michelle Wakeling and BMW Numero Uno (by Corofino II out of BMW Legacy) with their clear effort in 46.6 seconds, with Katie Laurie and McCaw MVNZ fifth on four faults in 42.66 and Catherine Cameron aboard Kiwi Fern (by Kiwi Gold out of Black Deming) sixth with four faults in 43.63. Rachel, who breaks and pre-trains thoroughbreds with her husband John, was very pleased with the win. “It’s exciting and rewarding for all the work that goes into producing these young horses – both for the riders and breeders too. Monte Carlo seems to like the idea of jumping off . . . this is a good lead up for HOY.”

Going late in the class proved a winner for Olivia Apatu and Alasaan Arzu in the Pony Speed Championship 1.2m class. Their clean 75.3 second effort just edged out runners-up Karis Spurway and Delta Le Camouflage, who were the only other clear round, stopping the clock at 75.55 seconds. Rylee Sheehan and Tony the Pony got up for third with their four-fault effort in 72.27 seconds, with Tara Gower and Ngahiwi Roany Pony fourth on four faults in 80.36 seconds, Summer Denize and Limerick’s Black Sambo fifth with four faults in 80.87, Emma-Kate Wilson and Envious Edition sixth with eight faults in 76 seconds, Isabel Devcich and Showtym Fantasy seventh with eight faults in 83.85 seconds and the very speedy Sarah West with Miss Mae West notched the fastest round of the day with their 69.97 effort but bagged 12 faults en route.

The qualifiers for the Gold Tour Horse 1.4m Final have been found, with Briar Burnett-Grant and Fiber Fresh Veroana taking the honours in the 33-strong class. The Taupo teen clocked a speedy 75.15sec double clear, ahead of Tess Clark and Sinatra II second in 80.14, Katie Laurie aboard Cera Caruso third in 84.03, Lucy Olphert and Eve Saint Laurent fourth in 84.12, Oliver Croucher and Waitangi fifth in 84.44, Melody Matheson and Graffiti MH the final double clear in sixth in 86.72, with Clint Beresford aboard Emmaville Jitterbug seventh and Drew Carson on Winston V Driene eighth. Thirty-one combinations will start in tomorrow’s final.

Georgia Massie and Double J Kelvin in the 5yo 1.10m Horse Breeders Final. (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Georgia Massie may have won the Five-Year-Old 1.1m Horse Breeders Final aboard Double J Kelvin (by Double J Repicharge out of JK Madam Seattle) but she’s got a bigger mountain to climb in convincing brother Logan to leave the horse with her. She came in as the first-day winner to the final and rode a beautifully controlled round to take the class with a score of 16.4, ahead of Katie Laurie on Gale (by Shinko King out of Eye Catcher) in second on 15.8, Sam McIntosh aboard Malarkey (by Corofino II out of Estina) with 15.7, Alex Loiselle on Dakota NZPH (by Pezetas du Rouet out of Oki Doki NZPH) in fourth on 15.6, Phillip Steiner and Cassina Dior on 15.5 in fifth, Jesse Linton on Expozay KCE (by Rei Huia Rauginamu out of Craighaven Imperial) sixth on 15.4, Logan Massie aboard Clearcut Xtreme (by Clearway out of Legacy Xtreme) with 15.2, and William Willis on Chio MS on 15. Georgia is over the moon with her win. “He was just so good. I knew if I gave him the spots he would look good – he always does,” she says. She will ride Kelvin at HOY but thinks older brother Logan is eyeing the well-performed horse for himself for next season. “I am still working on keeping him,” she says.

Sam Matthews learnt a thing or two about her horse Fleur DeLacour (by Corofino II out of Jazz) when they comfortably won the Four-Year-Old 1m Horse Breeders Final. “She hasn’t jumped that well before,” says the 22-year-old full-time rider and equine sports massage therapist. “She always jumps well but she showed me something new today. I am very excited for the future. She had a little spook at the wall when we rode past it, but we didn’t have to jump it. I was just hoping to get around both rounds nicely for her sake – that’s more important than winning.”

Sam and Fleur finished on a combined score of 16.5, with Jackie Jermyn and Chalo ECPH (by Cassiano out of Penelope) and Katie Laurie aboard Isla second-equal on 14.9, Logan Massie and Avenger Xtreme (by Andretti out of Corteeza) fourth on 13.7, Helen McNaught aboard Corona Xtreme (by Corofino II out of Legacy Xtreme) and Brayden Aarts on Camberley Phoenix AF (by Camberley Mercury out of By Gone Era AF) fifth equal on 13.5, Sarah West and Mangatu Chrome (by Patches) seventh on 11.7 and Jessica Brosnan on The Dash (by Stravinsky out of Fleet Action) eighth on 10.9.

Sam Matthews and Fleur DeLacour won the 4yo 1.00m Horse Breeders Final (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Katie Laurie was going for the steady clear in the Silver Tour Horse 1.35m final but when the third to last fence dropped, she knew she and On the Point Sandy had to pick up the pace. Every bit the cool professional, she did just that, finishing with four faults in 44.41 seconds for the win. Kimberley Bird and Cera Cassina, who picked up four at the last fence, the Devil’s Dyke, were second, stopping the clock at 44.49. Logan Massie and his six-year-old stallion Lamondo GNZ were third with their eight-fault round in 44.64, Karen Riddle and LC Telepathy were very excited fourth placegetters with their eight faults in 47.85 and Alex Randall and LC Tango were fifth. Filling the other minor placings from the first round were Helen McNaught on La Riviere (sixth), Tamara Silcock and Steel Magnolia (seventh) and Maia Coster on Landenfeld (eighth).

Katie is rapt to have made the trip home from Australia for the show. “It is a special win too, as Sandy’s owner Jamie (Main) is here to watch. Sandy has been jumping really well but I have kept her in the smaller tour here as I may start her in the bigger classes at HOY,” she says.

Katie Laurie and On the Point Sandy won the Silver Tour Horse 1.35 Final (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The show concludes today with the Pony and Horse Grands Prix as the feature events.

We hope you enjoy the gallery of beautiful photos from Libby Law Photography.

Main reporting thanks to Diana Dobson and Takapoto Estate Show Jumping.