Perfect jumping conditions on a perfect Canterbury day saw some great competitions and some equally great riding.
Open Pony Championship
First up in the McMillan Equine Feeds main arena was the Equissage NZ National Open Pony Championship (in association with Fiber Fresh). Annabel Francis and Te Mata Miss took the honours in the end, but she certainly had to work for it, producing two lovely clear rounds.
Te Mata Miss, a beautiful 15-year-old, showed her thoroughbred blood by speeding around clear in the second round. Annabel has been riding the pony for two years, and said she always planned to go clear and fast. She has just returned from competing in the North Island, and says, “It was so good, I learned a lot, met lots of new people and made many new friends. It certainly has helped me win today.”
Sophie Scott rode brilliantly, producing double clears with Benrose Playtime to finish second, and was also fourth on Waiotahi Belle. Steffi Whittaker was her usual very competitive self and finished third on Moonlight Glow, with just an unlucky rail in the jump off.
After the three rounds so far in the Pony Championship, Sophie and Benrose Playtime have taken the lead off Steffi, with a total of 2.63; Steffi is sitting on 4.81. Annabel has come up to third spot on 5.78, and Sophie with Waiotahi Belle is fourth on 7.78.
Lincoln University Junior Rider Series with Equitation Art
Todd Magner continued his great form in the Junior Rider series, producing two clear rounds and the fastest jump-off to win on Awatere Jonesy. This adds to the pair’s victory yesterday in the 1.20m Horse Championship, and Jonesy is showing no signs of tiring: “He’s full of energy; we’ve been doing lots of fitness work with him,” says Todd.
It was apt that Todd won this class, as in two weeks he is off to study for an agricultural commerce degree at Lincoln University, which sponsors the series. Two others in the class were also Lincoln students: Grace O’Sullivan and Florence Tapley.
There were only three clears from the first round, and Jaimee Bird and Double J Wilma were only just pipped by Todd on time, after jumping beautifully. Jaimee got revenge, however, as she was judged winner of the Equitation section, with Todd second and Florence Tapley third.
Indiana Williams and Beaumont Birdie were the other pair clear in round one, but a rail in the jump-off dropped them to third. Kate Beattie was the fastest of the four faulters and finished fourth.
Let’s Bale Pro Amateur Rider Series
Louise Marriott and Concur pulled off a trio of firsts in the Pro Am class: first into the arena, first to jump clear and first place with the fastest time in the jump-off!
Gail Richardson and Eireann Bandoola also jumped two clear rounds but their time wasn’t quite as fast as Louise’s.
Concur, a 12-year-old mare, is known as ‘Princess’ at home. “She likes everyone to know she is important,” says Louise, who bred her. Louise’s season had been on hold this year until now. “We have been late to start as the earthquake upset our plans. I am a truck driver and with the diversions and road closures, it means my run is four hours longer. We’ve had a nothing season so far, so it is nice to come to this and be in form!”
Lauren Buckley and Icey Storm were also clear in the first round and finished third. Fourth were Devon van Til and Winterberg with the fastest four faults; Larissa Srhoy and Rockquest were fifth, with Kirsty Sharapoff and Shoot the Breeze sixth.
FMG Young Rider Series
It was the last two riders who produced the first clear rounds over John Vallance’s course, which really took its toll on the young competitors. Steffi Whittaker showed everyone how to do it, guiding Ngahiwi Cruise around very confidently. Kimberley Bird then brought Ngahiwi Summer into the arena and also clocked up a lovely clear.
The win seemed likely to elude Steffi when her horse slipped on a turn in the jump-off and she was forced to circle. She recovered and finished clear, but with a time fault. It was then up to Kimberley to jump clear, but unfortunately the rails fell and she had to be happy with second place.
Harry Feast was third, Lucinda Askin fourth, Annabel Francis fifth and Arabella Jarman sixth.
Steffi is into her second year with Ngahiwi Cruise, and after a year of doing Junior Rider classes, has decided to make the step up. This is her first young rider class at the Nationals. She reckons her horse, acquired from Lily Tootill, is pretty special. “He’s such a good boy, he’s like my best friend.”
As well as gaining points in the FMG series, Steffi won the Cricklewood Ace Trophy presented by Nicole White.
The derby proved quite a challenge for the riders, taking them from the lush green grass of the arena, to the dry, dusty and hard cross-country surface as the competition demanded a mix of both. Kirsty Sharapoff won on Shoot the Breeze by a clear margin.
The show concludes tomorrow with the championship classes being decided in the last of the two rounds. The hot weather is predicted to get even hotter, and will match the competition!