Rotorua rider Anna Kincheff and her chestnut mare Red Socks were the surprise winners of today’s Show Hunter of the Year. It was the first time competing in the title class for both horse and rider, but two flowing and foot-perfect rounds saw them finish well clear of the rest of the 31-strong field. Anna was called back first and didn’t falter, but she was ‘in shock’ to discover she had won on a whopping 521 points.
“It feels so surreal,” grinned Anna, who turned 22 the week before Horse of the Year. “It’s a great birthday present actually!”
Anna has owned the 15.2hh 12-year-old ‘Socksie’ for about five years, having purchased her from Ike Unsworth. Anna isn’t completely sure of her breeding, but says she is a thoroughbred-stationbred cross.
Laura Van Velthooven and Sirocco Daisy were second, with Kristine Leonard and Annie’s Lane in third and Sally Newall aboard Dark Secrets fourth.
Feilding vet nurse Laura Van Velthooven and her delightful 18-year-old grey mare Sirocco Daisy were winners of the Amateur Show Hunter of the Year, proving age is no barrier. And Daisy wasn’t the only veteran in the class – the legendary Merran Hain celebrated her 75th birthday on the same day and also made the call-back with her 18-year-old Untouchable, eventually finishing in seventh place.
Laura and Daisy have had a super consistent season, winning the Amateur, Open High Points and Equitation series. But this was the first title for both and Laura’s biggest win to date.
Laura was also fourth in the amateur class with her eight-year-old Montbelle Donahue (Donnerubin). Anna and Red Socks were second, with former winners Stephie Joustra-Smith and Disney in third.
Oxford’s Georgia Allison and her super-cute 15hh Hokey Pokey were called back first and retained their lead to win the Junior Show Hunter of the Year. Georgia (17) also competes in dressage, showing and show jumping and she and Hokey Pokey have been busy at HOY, placing in a Level 1 dressage title class and also being named runner-up in Gypsy Cob of the Year.
Hokey Pokey is by the Allison family’s Gypsy Cob stallion, John Brodie, who stands at their Westfield Stud, and is out of a thoroughbred mare.
The Category A Pony Show Hunter of the Year went to RiverRock, ridden by Maiah Kitcheman. It was a catch ride for 12-year-old Maiah, who had only ridden the 13.1hh Kaimanawa-Welsh gelding twice before this week. The little chestnut with the bushy mane may be somewhat less refined in the looks department than a lot of his Cat A counterparts, but his lovely rhythm and great jump saw him shoot to the top of the leaderboard.
RiverRock is usually ridden by Jackson Stone, Maiah’s friend and classmate at Te Kowhai School. But Jackson is a New Zealand representative trampolinist, and unfortunately Land Rover Horse of the Year clashed with his squad commitments which meant he was sadly unable to ride.
It was a family affair in the Category B Show Hunter Pony of the Year, with Taupo sisters Libby and Vienna Wilson taking out the quinella. Libby (13) won the class with the gorgeous Waimeha Tayza, while Vienna (10) was second on last year’s winner of this title, Ashbury Robin Hood.
In the Category C Show Hunter Pony of the Year, Amelia Newsom and her beautiful eight-year-old Mr Mexico were the winners, in the pony’s very first season of show hunter competition. It was a special win for the Newsom family, as Amelia (widely known as ‘Mouse’) suffered a bad head injury four years ago when she was kicked while changing a cover.