The Amateur series is one of the most fiercely fought in show jumping, but it’s always with a strong sense of camaraderie among the riders.
And so it was for the Wade Equestrian Amateur Rider of the Year final, held in the Premier Arena of the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show today.
There were 30 combinations taking part, who had qualified the previous day. The very first out was Kate Cavanagh and her striking mare Wallflower, who with her one blue eye and impressive technique, certainly stands out from the crowd.
Nobody usually likes to be first to go, but it obviously wasn’t an issue for Kate, who cruised to victory with two foot-perfect performances.
She was joined in the jump-off by four other combinations on clear rounds, but her time of 47.31 seconds could not be beaten.
Kate, of Geraldine, is a full-time rider who works alongside her partner, Steve Houston, producing young horses.
She bought six-year-old Wallflower as a newly-started four-year-old from the McVeans; the mare is by Corofino II out of Double Dee, who in turn is out of the legendary Flower Power.
“She’s never seen anything like the atmosphere here – even qualifying in ring one yesterday was a huge step up for her,” says Kate. “She’s really surprised me – I didn’t expect she would win, to be honest! My plan was just to keep travelling, and leave her alone; she’s got the jump.”
Kate says the Amateur classes are a great competition. “There is such a mix of riders, including some very experienced and amazing ones, which is pretty awesome.”
Kate is a well-known producer of young horses, but this is her first Horse of the Year title, and she’s hoping to add to it on Saturday with an entry in the Show Hunter of the Year class, Vibrance (Voltaire II).
Second-placed Anna Stephen and her family-bred Lollipop SP (Corlando/Escargot) gave it a good go in the jump-off, but stalled slightly going into the second-to-last fence, and stopped the clock at 47.82 seconds.
Olivia Crozier was third on the Littorio mare La Fonteyn, Kaleigh Kent fourth on Double J Sponge Bob Square Pants, Kelly Hawkeswood fifth on Larinium LS, and Shelagh Nolan the fastest of the four-faulters for sixth on Ngahiwi Eyeza Blue.