A dramatic Farmlands Pony of the Year this evening saw some hot favourites falter, including a shock elimination, and rails tumbling aplenty.
Not a single one of the 32 combinations were able to lodge a clear in the first round, such was the combined challenge of Werner Deeg’s track, and the rapidly-lengthening shadows in the fading evening sunlight.
At one stage, the ponies were jumping a treble combination facing right into the setting sun, so it’s no surprise that most of them had rails down there, and it did seem unreasonable to schedule the class at this time of day.
Eight pairs got to come back for round two, all of whom were on four faults. Among those who did not make the cut were the series leaders Georgia Bouzaid and Redcliffs Bill, who’d had two rails. Even more surprising was the elimination of previous winner Fun House, who decanted her rider Lily Moore soon after entering the arena and before the bell had rung, shying and spinning at the crowd on the sidelines.
But one of the best performances in round one was that of Hawke’s Bay local Samantha Carrington and her mare Colours of Lansing, who had just one down and a smart time. In round two, they were clear, along with current National pony GP champions Emma Gillies and Benrose Playtime – so we had a jump-off.
By then, the shadows were encroaching across more then half of the Premier arena. Emma was out first, and had two rails down with her plucky dun mare.
So Samantha had the luxury of being able to go for a steady clear, and she wasn’t super-slow, but most importantly left all the rails up for a massively popular victory.
Colours of Lansing, a 14-year-old by Lansing out of Colours of Monet, was bred by Dave Sutton to be a hack, but only grew to pony height. She and Samantha have been a team for the past five seasons, though it got off to a wobbly start when Sam fell off and broke both arms at their first away show.
Since then though, they’ve developed a close partnership. “We trust each other so much,” says Sam. “If we had more money we would keep her as a broodmare, but now I’m turning 17 she’s got to be sold. It’s really hard, she’s my best friend.”
Emma was second, and her elder sister Samantha was third on Junior Disco, with Rylee Sheehan – one of just two boys from the 32 starters – fourth on Tony the Pony. Isabelle Jameson and Pacific Dream were fifth, and Aimee Collinson rounded up the top six on the former winner, Moonlight Glow.