The title of National Champions were decided yesterday at the National Equestrian Centre, McLeans Island, Christchurch. Unfortunately, after two brilliant days of weather, the rain arrived – so those who triumphed as National Champions can rightly say their horse was the most consistent, whatever the footing!
The big event of the day was the the National Grand Prix Champion, which was decided by two final rounds. The leaders from Friday’s speed class were Lucinda Askin and Portofino, but Lucinda decided not to start, saving the horse for his preferred firmer footing. This meant that Invercargill’s Nicole White on LC Samson went into the class in pole position, and while she had two down in the second round, and one down in the last, she did enough to win the title.
“It was definitely the biggest win of my career so far,” Nicole says. “This is our first season of doing Grand Prix, and only my second season on him.” The ten-year-old was acquired as a stallion but Nicole decided she wanted a sport horse gelding. “He’s lovely to have around, he is a massive smooch.”
It was a good weekend for Nicole, as her team, The Highlanders, won the very entertaining fun teams’ competition the evening before: you can see that action on this link! Nicole is intending to head to Horse of the Year – it will be a three-day trek to get there with her three horses.
None of the riders in this class jumped clear on Sunday, with some horses really struggling in the wet conditions, and the hardy arena crew were kept very busy. Five came back for the final round. Steffi Whittaker looked very comfortable at this level, having only stepped up from ponies this season. She was last year’s Pony of the Year winner and here she was competing with finesse in the National GP class on Eros K. These two look very promising, even though they did have rails in this competition.
Auckland’s Dani Maurer put in a great final round and was unlucky to have the last down, a result that was good enough to put her into second place on Dicavalli Don Quattro. Dani is staying down in Canterbury to take part in this weekend’s South Island Championships.
There were a few tears for Rosa Buist-Brown after she won the National Championship for ponies (1.20 – 1.25cm) on Junior Disco. “It is amazing,” Rosa said afterwards. “It’s the biggest class I have won. I didn’t think I could do it!” The 15-year-old has been riding 11-year-old Junior Disco for three years, and is heading to Hastings to have a go at the Pony of the Year competition. The family celebration was going to involve takeaways, and Rosa was promised she could chose where they would be from!
The 1.30m championship’s final two rounds were also held in difficult conditions. Danielle Maurer’s Madam Coco didn’t let that worry her, and coped well with the conditions, putting in a clear round. When the leader from the first day, Todd Magner on Awatuna Jonesy, slid into a fence, plus had another rail, Dani and Madam Coco went into the last round in pole position. One rail down made no difference to the result, and it was a win to the rider from Kaukapakapa, north of Auckland.
Dani had only six weeks ago started competing with this mare, who is owned by Cerys Tarr. “I’ve been teaching the horse since she was five, so I am so stoked to have the ride on her. It is so nice for Cerys, who has flown down to watch.” Madam Coco is now eight and won the six-year-old series two years ago with Cerys riding.
Dani had planned at the start of the season to come down to the South Island for these events. “I like to come down here every couple of years. It is expensive, but if you have a good enough team of horses it is really worthwhile.”
The Chairman of the Organising Committee for this show, Gus Taylor, put in a great effort to finish second in the 1.30 championship on Oak As. He finished with a clear in the last round, soaring over everything. The hard-worker was soon back helping clear arenas, and getting things organised.
The only other North Islander competing at the event was Sophie Scott, who also had a good win: she took the National Open Show Hunter title on Benrose Rockstar. While she was rapt to win, she wasn’t planning on competing in the show hunter section at Horse of the Year but she is staying down for the Canterbury SJ Championships next weekend. Sophie also finished second in the pony championship on Benrose Playtime.
It was a very satisfying win for Queenstown’s Lauren Buckley on Icey Storm in the 1.20m national title class. The off-the-track thoroughbred (by Storm Creek) coped really well with the conditions, with just one down in the second round of the competition. The pair’s clear final round put pressure on the last competitor, Grace O’Sullivan (the round was ridden in reverse order), and, unfortunately for Grace, she and Cosmopolitan had two rails to give Lauren the win.
“It is my biggest win, and I am very pleased as he is a dry-weather boy, but he just tried his heart out there today,” says Lauren.
Zoe Shore was delighted with her “very good pony”, Burberry, who put in one of the few clears in the second round, and then did it again in the last round to finish second overall.
It was a shame for the organisers, competitors and spectators that the weather was so awful on the last day, as the first two days had produced some fabulous competitions and jumping. But the winners should be applauded for being able to cope with all the conditions – true national champions!
The photos are available for purchase on this link, and are now all loaded ready for viewing/searching.
Results are available below.
National 1.40 Horse Champion
- Nicole White, LC Samson
- Danielle Maurer, Dicavalli Don Quatro
- Chris Harris, Glenbrooke Archie Bunker
National 1.30 Horse Champion
- Danielle Maurer, Madam Coco
- Gus Taylor, Oak As
- Tegan Fitzsimon, Alacazam MH
- Danielle Maurer, Banderas C
- Todd Magner, Awatuna Jonesy
National Champion Pony
- Rosa Buist-Brown, Junior Disco
- Sophie Scott, Benrose Playtime
- Grace Manera, Rednalhgih Cowan
- Grace Manera, Tallyho Scoundrel
National 1.20 Horse Championship
- Lauren Buckley, Icey Storm
- Zoe Shore, Burberry
- Olivia Brown, RH Kukumoa
- Grace O’Sullivan, Cosmopolitan
- Olivia Harkerss, Lacona Ammoe
National 1.10 Horse Championship
- Grace Percy, Sunny Disposition
- Amy McMullan, Silversmith
- Olivia Orange, La Fonteyn
T&M Nurseries Ltd National 1 m Pony Championship
- Samantha Gillies, Hez Sweet As
- Ruby Tanane, Kennebrook Jester
- Pippa Collins Pixel 3,
- Emma Gillies, Paint Me Puzzle
National 1.10 Pony Championship
- Ella Rae-Wood, Tallyho Primrose
- Olivia Adams, Sweet Cappuccino
- Noah Coutts, Onisha
National 1m Pony Champion
- Mikayla Wycliffe, NS Hey Mickey
- Ruby Taane, Kennebrook Jester
- Pippa Collins, Pixel
National Open Champion
- Sophie Scott, Benrose Rockstar
- Casey Smith, MJ Tonnic
- Claudia Wilson, Shapeshifter II
- Danni Gubb, Guiness II
National Amateur Champion
- Helen Ensor, Zactac Night and Day
- Kirsty Jacob, Flora
- Rosa Douglass, Tikety Tok
- Claudia Wilson, Shapeshifter
- Kirsten Beaven, RV Di Caprio
National Category A Pony
- Emma Gillies, Amberfield Golden Charm
- Ellie Templeton, Benrose Comet
- Abbie Doncliff, Booraboora Bobby
- Grace Roy, Moon Spirit Hot Gossip
National Category B Pony
- Harriet Jolly, Windward Hemi
- Quinn Coutts, Goosebumps
- Molly Smith, Bexley Lodge Tinkabella
- Emma Gillies, Paint Me Puzzle
National Category C Pony
- Harriet Laing, Triple Star Picture Puzzle
- Quinn Coutts, Tuis Morning Star
- Samantha Gillies, Moccochino
- Georgia Allison, Pioneer High Jinx