The second week of Takapoto Estate Show Jumping was held in golden sunshine, which showcased some outstanding performances at New Zealand’s most outstanding venue, on the shores of Lake Karapiro.
Annabel Francis and Carado GHP showed size really is of no consequence when they soared to victory in the Gold Tour Final.
The pint-sized 16-year-old from Taupo and her 160cm gelding, who was imported from Australia just a couple of months ago, headed off 25 other combinations – which included many of the best in the country – to pocket the $15,000 winner’s cheque.
“We are the perfect match because we are both so small, but it’s no disadvantage,” says Annabel. “He is a bit of a show-off and if he thinks there’s a crowd, he does like to clown around.”
Carado GHP is a 12-year-old Holsteiner by Carettino, out of Only You V, and will be one to watch for sure at the upcoming Land Rover Horse of the Year Show, where he is entered in the major classes including the Olympic Cup.
He and Annabel clearly enjoyed the beautiful footing and facilities at Takapoto, winning the Gold Tour’s first qualifier, from Kimberley Bird on Cera Cassina.
Fellow Taupo teenager Briar Burnett-Grant won the second Gold Tour qualifier, a speed class, on Fiber Fresh Veroana, with second place to Melody Matheson on Cortaflex Graffiti MH.
Twenty-six started the Gold Tour Final at Takapoto, over the course designed by Germany’s Frank Rothenberger, with 13 combinations on four faults and fewer coming back for the second round – eight of them on zero. Four of those were clear again, the first of them the perennial Maurice Beatson and Mandalay Cove, stopping the clock on 56.08 seconds.
Brooke Edgecombe and the very consistent LT Holst Andrea were next and their 50.44 second time edged them ahead. Then Australian visitor Kate Hinschen and FF Cadel gave it their all, clear in 49.6 seconds, so it was down to Annabel to claim the class for the Kiwis.
The pocket rocket combo romped their way around, galloped into the last and fairly flew over it to take the win in 46.85.
Tegan Fitzsimon has been making headlines all season with her stable star, Windermere Cappuccino, but it was the turn of Double J Monarch in the winners’ circle at Takapoto this week, taking out the Silver Tour Final with Tegan ahead of Emily Hayward and Belischi HM.
Just those two went through to the jump-off, out of 30 combinations, and Tegan says she went for a clear rather than trying to push for speed: “Monarch is not the quickest in a jump-off so I tried to be smart and do what was best for her at the same time.”
Emily was three seconds faster, but paid for it after a tight turn into the last fence resulted in four faults.
The 10-year-old mare Monarch, who Tegan co-owns with Tinesha Carey, is now on the market. “Our agreement was always to run her to 10 years of age. She is just the most amazing horse though, so she will definitely leave a hole in the team.”
Monarch has been hugely consistent for Tegan, winning leading mare and eight-year-old in 2016, placing third in the 2018 Lady Rider of the Year and third at the Nationals this year.
“She is consistently there and fantastic to have in the team. She is a sassy little cat but she is lovely and she always tries her heart out for me.”
Emelia Forsyth and Henton Faberge were third in the final, as the fastest four-faulter, but won both qualifiers.
Rachel Malcolm is well known for producing young jumping horses, and so it was no surprise that she came out on top of the Bronze Tour Final, with Henton Excalibur (El Bundy/Henton Dungarven), who she has had since he was a yearling.
The 11-year-old competed in the Silver Tour in the opening week, but Rachel decided to step him back to the Bronze for the second week, which paid off. Thirty started the class with seven coming back for the jump-off; Nakeysha Lammers and Balboa NZPH were second, and Samantha Morrison was third on Corfu.
Samantha won the first qualifying class on the lovely young gelding by Euro Sport Centavos, who was bred and produced by James Jackson, with Rachel second.
Briar Burnett-Grant won the second qualifier on Fiber Fresh Casallita (an imported Holsteiner mare by Casall), with Ally Carson second on her nine-year-old stationbred Whiorau Ritchie, and Takapoto stable rider and show organiser Jaime Campbell third on Lanice van de Heffinck.
The Amateur Tour incorporated the first New Zealand leg of the Global Amateur Tour, and had the added glamour of a number of international riders, from Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Canada and Scotland.
But it was Kiwis to the fore, with the Amateur Tour Final a wonderful victory for Tauranga doctor Rachael Bentall and SB Smokescreen, after a three-way jump-off. Rachael (27) has only recently returned to riding, and had only teamed up with the part saddlebred, seven-year-old mare a few weeks before the show; her owner and regular rider Scott Borland is still recovering from breaking his neck at the Christmas Classic, but was beside himself with pride on the sidelines.
Megan Schischka and her gorgeous palomino Hollywood Wannabe were second, and Danielle Wheeler third on CP Aurelio.
But it was Kelly Smith who came out with the overall Global Amateur Tour Series win, thanks to her three consistent performances across the show; she and Corlinka were fourth in the final, seventh in the first qualifier and second in the second qualifier, for a total of 105 points.
Kelly, a dairy farmer and mother of four from Foxton, had nearly a year away from riding after suffering a head injury in December 2017. Takapoto was just her third show back, and she says she was nervous and had no expectations other than to enjoy herself, and ideally build confidence with clear rounds. “I actually didn’t think I was ever going to ride again just with my family and the possible risk of injury, but I was really missing it. I think you should do what you love.”
Paxton Conder and La Fonteyn were second in the series, and Brazil’s Alexander Dattelkremer third, with Double J Beyonce.
In the first Amateur qualifier, it was a super win for Tim Bruce and his impressive NZ sport horse Limousine, by Limonit, who was bred by Neil and Kirsty McKenzie-Hall, with a jump-off more than two seconds faster than second-placed Kaleigh Kent, on Double J Sponge Bob Square Pants. Fifteen of the 45 starters went through to jump off, and only four of those were double clear.
The second qualifier was a speed class, and most fittingly it was won by Kelsey Leahy and her successful former racehorse, Showcause.
Zara Waldin and her chestnut mare U Can Dance NZPH won both the second Junior qualifying class and the Junior Tour Final, with a very slick jump-off of 36.11 seconds.
Maddison Sale was second in the final, riding her little stationbred The Minginui Kid, with Shyanne Eagle third on Prestige, who is by Prestige VDL out of Distelbelle.
Maya Denis and Cadenza won the first Junior qualifier.
Harriet Stock, all the way up from Ashburton, won the Pony Tour Final with EB Esperanza, pipping the in-form combination of Tyla Hackett and The Dreamer into second after a thrilling jump-off.
Twenty-five lined up for the final, including many of the country’s leading Grand Prix ponies, and six of them were clear in the first round. Keira Page and Redcliffs Colour Me In were third.
It was a bit of a bridesmaid weekend for Tyla, as she and The Dreamer were also runners-up in the Pony Speed Championship, which was won by Emma Watson and Maddox Fun House. Tyla was more than five seconds faster, but had paid for it with a rail, while Emma had the only clear from the field of 33.
Emma Gaze and Woodland Bug took out the Anne Symes Memorial 1.30m Derby, first to go out of 17 combinations and the only pair to go clear. “I’ve never done a derby before and I just wanted to have a little play out there. We had absolutely no expectations but a heck of a good time. He’s such a good boy,” she said of her horse, who was bred by her mother Wendy and is by Prestige VDL out of Bush Bug.
Karn Riddle and her stallion LC Telepathy were second, as the only four-faulter, and Bernard Denton was third on Horsesports I Am Walter.
Tash Brooks and her up-and-coming Twerk won the IRT Six-Bar, held as part of the entertainment at the APL Cocktail Evening.