Hayley is our Lady Rider of the Year!

Lady Rider of the Year has always been one of the show's great competitions and 2017 was no different

Ultra Mox Lady Rider winners Hayley Morris and Miss Money Penny (Image: Cornege Photography)

Hayley Morris is the 2017 Lady Rider of the Year, having travelled from Australia specifically to win this title on her beloved Miss Money Penny.

Hayley, originally from View Hill near Oxford in Canterbury, was one of eight who had jumped clear in the first round. It was always going to be a competitive jump-off with New Zealand’s top women out to win the coveted trophy. Katie Laurie had both Dunstan Breeze and Dunstan Springfield through to the jump-off and everyone knows how hard it is to beat her!

Second out in the jump-off, Hayley and Miss Money Penny were fast and accurate (Image: Cornege Photography)

Hayley was second to go in the jump-off, having watched Brooke Edgecombe on LT Holst Andrea, the first out, have the second to last fence down. Hayley and Miss Money Penny left all the rails in the right place, and recorded a great time of 46.82 so it was up to those who followed to chase them down.

Having to settle for second place this year: Katie Laurie and Dunstan Springfield (Image: Cornege Photography)

The next five competitors tried their best, but couldn’t jump clear. Fellow Cantabrian, Lucy Askin, on Portofino got close, also recording a clear round but with a slower time of 49.93. When the last rider, Katie Laurie on Dunstan Springfield, came into the arena, the crowd went very quiet. The rails all stayed up, the corners were cut and we all knew it was going to be oh-so-close. The announcer, Warrick Allen, kept us and Katie all in suspense, teasing us like they do on reality shows.

Waiting to hear Katie’s time was an anxious moment for Hayley

Hayley and her team were watching anxiously in the gateway, and they erupted with screams of delight when Warrick announced that Katie’s time was 0.16 seconds slower than Hayley’s.

“I’ve done it!”

Hayley got quite emotional at the presentation, saying that her horse had been on a “hell of a journey” to get here. She wasn’t referring to crossing the Tasman: she was talking about the horse having to recover from two colic surgeries a couple of years ago.

“It’s a huge deal [to win this class]. It’s amazing. This was my class to win. I went out and did my best but didn’t know if it was going to be good enough. She tried her guts out.”

Miss Money Penny is an eight-year-old who was imported from Europe, and has been doing well in Young Rider classes and futurities in Australia where Hayley has been based for the last four years. She made the decision to move over when her bosses Ross and Mel Smith moved from New Zealand to Queensland, taking her young horse Livewire II with her. “I ended up selling him and stayed!”

While the toads and snakes of Queensland are not favoured by Hayley, she doesn’t think she will be moving back to New Zealand any time soon. “I’d like to go to USA or Europe and get some really good miles on the clock. I’d like to try for an Olympic team.”

Parents Sharon and Glenn, who farm in North Canterbury, and grandad Gordon from Matamata, were on hand to see Hayley win. Glenn reckons, “There’re more wins to come, but one at a time.” Sharon spoke proudly of how Hayley had been horse-mad as a child, but hadn’t got her own pony until she was 15 or 16, instead riding the school ponies at Kowhai Riding School. She attended the View Hill Pony Club.

Hayley came over for three shows in New Zealand – Woodhill, Tauranga and HOY – and the horses are due to fly out on Tuesday.

As for celebrations? “I’m not much of a drinker, but it will be a big night!”

We hope you enjoy yourself, Hayley.

Hayley out congratulating Lucy Askin on her clear round.
Place Time Faults
1 Miss Money Penny Hayley Morris 46.82 0
2 Dunstan Springfield Katie Laurie 46.98 0
3 Portofino Lucinda Askin 49.93 0
4 LT Holst Andrea Brooke Edgecombe 52.59 4
5 Dunstan Breeze Katie Laurie 60.58 4
6 Ulysses NZPH Lily Tootill 45.84 8
7 McMillans Tipsey Claire Wilson 49.02 8
8 Raibeart Bruis Elle Phillips 53.22 8
9 Carlo I Nicola Hammond 51.92 12