While we should be celebrating the successes in the yesterday’s premier hack classes at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show, a scheduling disaster has left many showies bitter and disappointed, with the Park Hack of the Year classes finishing in the dark.
After the eventing cross-country finished, the hack classes got under way at 1pm. The park hacks were originally scheduled to start at 5.45pm, but didn’t begin until 6.15pm. One by one, the competitors came in to do their workouts, but with the light failing fast, and with 20 combinations to get through, it was never going to happen.
Though the first 10 or so horses were assessed in the daylight or dusk, by the end of the class you could barely see a few feet in front of you, let alone the horses going around the arena.
The judges were put in an unenviable position, and while I don’t doubt they did their utmost under the challenging conditions, it wasn’t fair to the competitors, the horses and their connections, who have put so much time, money, blood, sweat and tears into making it to the Horse of the Year Show. It was also downright dangerous.
Nicola Urquhart (nee Lancaster), from West Melton, near Christchurch, was thrilled to win the Park Hack of the Year on the Singer family’s lovely Australian-bred thoroughbred, Cahoncho, but was “pretty gutted to have my presentation in the dark, especially since we worked so hard to achieve this and come from so very far away, to finish in the pitch black”.
The pair also picked up Reserve Paced & Mannered Park Hack of the Year and Reserve in the RAS Livamol Thoroughbred Show Horse of the Year earlier in the show. Reserve in the title class went to fellow Cantabrian Angela Darke on RP Superstytion.
Earlier in the day, Cambridge rider Ben Thomson, of TC Equestrian, ended his successful association with TC Artistry on a high, taking out the hotly-contested Riding Horse of the Year. It was their last show together as the horse has been sold to Brittany Lupton, and Ben was overwhelmed with the win. “It’s a very cool way to finish,” he says.
TC Artistry is a previous winner of the Hack of the Year title, and this is his third season in the show ring. He is a thoroughbred by Bernardini and formally raced in Hong Kong. Reserve went to Kelly Sheely on To The Max.
Next up it was the turn of the hacks. With a high-class field of 16, it was always going to be a tough battle for title honours, but once again the judges couldn’t go past local rider Sue Reynolds and her lovely bay thoroughbred by Turffontein, Seattle, with reserve going to Julie Wylie Parkinson on Sparkling Galaxy. Sue and Seattle were the winners of the Thoroughbred Horse of the Year and reserve in the Rising Star Hack of the Year to Ben Thompson on RP Richochet, earlier in the show. She has only had Seattle, a six-year-old former racehorse, for five months, having bought him sight unseen after viewing a video from Australia.
Sue was ecstatic with the win. “He went super in the conditions, and he tried really hard. It’s just amazing. We are still getting to know each other. When I got him he was a very green thoroughbred. He has come such a long way,” she says.
A big field of 19 started in the Saddle Hunter of the Year with the judges giving 25-year-old Nelson hairdresser Natasha Connolly and World Edition the nod, ahead of Rising Star Saddle of the Year hunter Grace Thompson on Trevelda Mountain Storm.
Natasha was “over the moon” with the win, her first-ever HOY title. “I never thought anything like this would happen to someone like me. It was a tough field, there were lots of stunning saddle hunters,” she says.
Meanwhile, the pony paced & mannered and junior rider titles were decided in ring two, which also had a late finish. The Large Paced & Mannered Pony of the Year was won by Rebecca Aplin on Woodlands Park Light O Day, with Ella Rankin on Windsor English’e Kisses taking out the Medium P&M Show POY. In the saddle hunter ponies, the large division was won by Brenna Tait and KS Heavenly Rose.
Brooke Cadwallader continued her winning streak, claiming the Junior Rider of the Year 11 years and under title on Leeara Park First Edition; Billie Roach took out the Junior Rider of the Year 12-14 years on Linden Fine Art, and Natasha Waddell won the Junior Rider of the Year 15-16 years aboard Uptown Charlie Brown.
Riding Horse of the Year
Ben Thomson TC Equestrian, TC Artistry 1; Kelly Sheely, To The Max, 2; Tania Boyd, Arcoda’s I’m Xceptional 3; Andrea Baxter, Forcees 4; Jayna Dineen, Sansibar 5; Corey Miln, Illusion 6.
Hack of the Year
Sue Renyolds, Seattle 1; Julie Wylie Parkinson, Sparkling Galaxy 2; Dani Simpson, Integrities Promise 3; Rebecca Rowlands, Citizen 4; Shenae Mackenzie, Debford Rhapsody 5; Cara Norling, Zanzipour 6.
Saddle Hunter of the Year
Natasha Connolly, World Edition 1; Grace Thompson, Trevelda Mountain Storm 2, Rebecca Aplin, Sherlock 3; Harriet Redmond, Ngahiwi Frosty 4; Vanessa Pickens, Rubinesque 5; Allie Harper, Guess MH 6.
Park Hack of the Year
Nicola Lancaster, Cahoncho 1; Angela Darke, RP Superstytion 2; Amy Vujcich, Rockefella 3; Laura MacNab, Sir Duke 4; Richard Otto, Xant’e 5; Brownwyn Woodhead, Woodhill Gona Dance, 6.