Canterbury has defended its team title at the 2018 NZPCA Eventing Championships in Masterton. It came down to a nailbiting finish, and the scores were exceptionally tight. Canterbury finished on 135.88, with Waikato having to settle for second despite a fine finish, on a score of 137.69. Wairarapa-Wellington, the host team, came in for third, just fractionally behind Waikato, on 137.96. The composite team of Auckland and Otago-Southland was fourth on 145.11 and Otago-Southland’s team fifth on 150.81.
There were lots of tales of “if only”, and some disappointed riders, but most were quick to realise that this is what happens in sport (and life), and were soon back enthusing about what a wonderful experience they had, especially riding for a team.
Becci Thomas, the coach of Canterbury for both this year and last year’s wins, says it was great to defend the title. “We had a different group of riders, so it shows the depth we have in the Canterbury area. The riders had to fight hard to get in the team, going through four area trials to get here.”
Four of the riders were from the View Hill Pony Club, with one from Roydvale and one from Halswell. Becci herself competed as part of the Canterbury team in the 1990s, achieving placings, but never a win. Two of the mothers, on the other hand, were both in the winning Canterbury team in 1987 at Auckland: Anne Nicholl (now Cochrane) rode Zebidee, and Angela Wilson (now Thacker) rode Shamus in the AI section of the winning team. Their daughters Lucy Cochrane and Molli Thacker have now followed in their footsteps.
Presenting the prizes was the President of the Ground Jury, Anne Tylee, who won the DC section in 1964, riding Neptune.
The event has so much history and family involvement, and so many interesting connections. Lifelong friends are certainly made at these events.
It was predicted that show jumping would be even more crucial than usual in this eventing championship with the scores so tight between the top five, and so it proved.
Waikato’s Jenny Bevege (20) and her home-bred Ngatamahine JJ Airtime rose from third after cross-country to win, thanks to producing the only clear round in the top five.
Jenny wasn’t ringside to watch how the event unfolded after her round, having been randomly selected for drug testing on her horse. So as she didn’t see the rails tumble for the two who rode after her, she was surprised to be told she was the winner, and her first words were expressing genuine sympathy to those riders.
Eight-year-old Ngatamahine JJ Airtime, also known as ‘Willy’ or ‘Hippo’, quickly co-operated with the testers, supplying the sample required. Jenny was then able to emerge to receive her congratulations from friends and fellow competitors.
Heartbreakingly for Beth Wilson and Alto Et Audax, the leaders after the cross-country, one rail down meant that the win eluded the pair again. It was a repeat of 2017 in Whangarei, and while Beth was understandably upset, she was soon able to be philosophical about it. “Maybe next time,” she says.
Jenny and her parents and sister are all big pony club supporters, and her dad Roger reckons he has been to “hundreds” of eventing championships. This was the first time that it had involved a win, however. “I never rode at Champs, but am riding by proxy now with my girls,” Roger says. Jenny’s sister Sarah has also ridden at the Champs, and this is Jenny’s third time. On her Champs debut, she was “last of the finishers”, and last year she was ninth. Her next event will be Taupo three-day, where she is planning to compete in the one-star.
Jenny’s mum Pip wasn’t on hand, with a family engagement taking priority, but was on the phone to hear the good news. Pip’s dressage horse is Willy’s mother; he is the only foal she has produced.
The family are from the Ngatahine Valley, near Piopio in the King Country. Jenny attended Te Kuiti PC for many years, but is now with the Hamilton Pony Club as she works in the area, breaking-in horses for Michael Morton at Redwood Creek. She also coaches at other pony clubs and is part of the NZPCA’s Riders Project group, working on education and development.
The eventing champs is one of Jenny’s favourite events and she reckons she will definitely be back next year. “It is great to be able to compete as a team, and it is something I encourage everyone to do before they become very involved in the top ESNZ competitions. It teaches you so much.”
The new DC championship winner is Franklin-Thames Valley’s Eden Doull, riding Noble Value. Both horse and rider are aged 16, and didn’t add any faults to their dressage score! Eden was very happy with her dressage test, and reckoned that her horse saved her a couple of times in the cross-country. “It is so amazing to win, I didn’t think it would happen,” she says.
Eden, who attends Strathallen School in Karaka, goes to Hunua Pony Club. She is from a family with no background in horses, but father Grant seemed to have taken to the challenge well, being on hand every step of the way. But he didn’t go as far as buying his daughter some new jodhpurs for Champs when it was discovered Eden had left all hers at home. She got through the event using one borrowed pair!
Eden’s mother was attending a family wedding over the weekend, so couldn’t be there to enjoy the moment. However, the cellphone came out really quickly, and the message was “Mum, I’ve won!!”
Eden isn’t sure what it was about riding that initially attracted her. “I tried lots of sports and then asked Mum if I could give riding a go. She said yes, but then said that we would never get a pony.” Of course all those experienced in horse matters know that she was dreaming! While for the first two years Eden learned on riding school horses (Karaka Ride Smart), the family have since upsized their two acres to 20, to accommodate the four horses they now have.
This year’s Champs experience has been a better one than last year’s for Eden, as at Whangarei last year she had some issues on the cross-country after leading the dressage. “This Champs is my favourite, obviously,” she says. “But really, even without winning, it has been amazing. I love these travelling events, and this has been a nice environment, and a great team to be with. Everyone gets on so well, everyone helps, and I’ve met lots of new people.”
Eden says she will definitely be trying for the team again next year, but in the meantime there is the Taupo 3DE in the plan, with Eden aiming to improve on her second placing in the NZPCA title for the best-performed pony club member last year, riding in the 105cm class. Next season, she hopes to move up to one-star.
There was a fourth equal in the class, between Francesca Masfen on Kinnordy Gallilee and Jordan Shrimpton on Ka Pai Kiwi. They finished on the same dressage score, and added no faults to that score of 30.66 when both jumped clear. They also both finished on the same time in the cross-country, so the judges had to go back to the dressage sheets to see who scored the higher individual marks – but again they were the same, so the tie was declared.
Fabriana McQuarrie was very nervous going into the final show jumping phase in the Mark Todd section of the NZPCA eventing champs on her pony Yippee Ki Yay – “probaby the most nervous I have ever been,” she says. She had been in second position after the cross-country, but the pressure came on when leader and team mate Charlotte Thomas had her mount Te Puke fail the final inspection earlier in the morning.
She did a clear round, albeit making some on the sideline gasp a few times. “He got a bit close and gave me a bit of a fright,” Fabriana says. She has had the pony about four years, and enjoys both show jumping and eventing with him.
The next competition the pair are aiming for is the Springston Trophy in October in Oamaru, but ‘Max’ is going to have a holiday first.
Fabriana goes to Cashmere Primary School, attends Halswell Pony Club and gets coaching from Emily Cammock. She lives in the Port Hills area, and had quite the drama during the fires which got as close as 50m to the family home. The ponies had to be moved a number of times, eventually taking refuge with the Buist-Brown family at the Selwyn Equestrian Centre. “They could smell the smoke and were freaking out,” she says. The family’s property incurred a lot of damage, but the house was saved, thanks to the hard work of the helicopters and firefighters.
Fabriana’s parents are not horsey, and it took a while to convince Mum especially that her two daughters were serious about it. “We rode a friend’s horse for a while, and then they said we could take it home. Mum said no at first, but eventually said yes, thinking we would like it for about a week.” Of course that didn’t work out as Mum thought, and Fabriana is hoping she can incorporate horses somewhere in her career in future.
As to her first Pony Club eventing champs experience, Fabriana has had a great time. “It is the best team, and we have had so much fun together. We also have a cool coach.” Another highlight was meeting Francesca Masfen who owned the pony before Fabriana.
Well done to the organisers and all who attended. It was a lovely event, and great to see the riders enjoying the team environment and learning about how to support each other at such competitions.
Next year’s eventing championships will probably be held in Auckland, although there is still some decisions to be made. Wherever it is held, the event is something all pony club eventing riders would do well to have on their list of goals, as being in a teams event like this can be life-changing and is definitely character-building!
|1||Jenny Bevege||Ngatamahine Jj Airtime||Waikato||32.63|
|2||Beth Wilson||Alto Et Audax||Franklin Thames Valley||34.00|
|3||Lilly Anderson||Victory Hawk||Otago Southland Area||36.05|
|4||Paige Hardwick *||Ivanoff||ASCNO/HB||36.32|
|5||Molli Thacker||Happy Go Lucky||Canterbury||36.93|
|6||Aiden Viviers||Giselle II||Wairarapa Wellington||37.28|
|7||Rebecca Wardle||WS Paradise||Marlborough/ Nelson/ West Coast||40.26|
|1||Eden Doull||Noble Value||Franklin Thames Valley||22.90|
|2||Kaitlyn Freeman *||Landisohn||Manawatu West Coast Individual||26.84|
|3||Tayla Moss||King Oath||Auckland||29.87|
|4=||Francesca Masfen||Kinnordy Gallilee||Auckland||30.66|
|4=||Jordan Shrimpton||Ka Pai Kiwi||Canterbury||30.66|
|6||Molly Cardno||Packing Chaparral||Wairarapa Wellington||33.55|
|7||Jacinda Baker-Singh||Mr Parkes||Waikato||33.69|
|8||Jessica Viviers||Trogg LS||Wairarapa Wellington||34.21|
|1||Fabriana McQuarrie||Yippee Ki Yay||Canterbury||30.00|
|2||Hollie Falloon||Farleigh Catterick||Wairarapa Wellington||32.38|
|4||Maggie Bowles||Darvel Mia||Otago Southland Area||34.13|
|5||Ella Morshuis||Time Bandit||Otago Southland Area||35.50|
|6||Josefin Lerbs||Penelope||Marlborough/ Nelson/ West Coast||37.13|
|7||Noah Coutts *||Bizzie Canoodling||Otago Southland Area Individual||38.38|
|8||Lucy Marshall||Just Benji||Wairarapa Wellington||38.88|
Photos are available from Jane’s website.