Wellington rider Chelsea Callaghan and her super Friesian-cross Sisters II Etta J were the surprise winners of the Small Tour Horse of the Year today. The bubbly 27-year-old lifeguard was ‘in shock’ to win her first ever HOY title on her unconventionally-bred mare after their win in the musical freestyle on 71.44%.
Te Aroha’s Gaylene Lennard and Jax Johnson have been unbeatable all season, and they won the Inter I on 70.97%, with Christine Weal and Schindlers Liszt second on 69.70% and Chelsea and Etta third on 68.76%. But the results switched around in the freestyle; Christine was again second on 71.44%, but Jax wasn’t quite on his usual form and 70.44% put Gaylene into third place both in the class and the overall title.
“I made a mistake in my three-tempis in the Inter I, and Etta was super-excited so she didn’t want to stand in the halt. Today she felt much more settled and rideable,” says Chelsea.
“After being third I actually felt like I had no pressure today. I really didn’t think I would beat Gaylene – her horse is amazing and she is riding so well.”
Chelsea has owned the not-quite 16hh Etta since she was a four-year-old, and has brought her through the grades herself. She is by the Friesian stallion Ziegfried out of a Dynamit-TB mare, and Chelsea says she is a real workhorse. “She tries so hard and she is definitely expressive in front, because of the Friesian side.”
Taranaki trainer Vanessa Way had a win in the Inter B with her nine-year-old NSC Pronto and is currently leading the Medium Tour championship. The duo scored 65.43%, narrowly in front of Catherine West on Amici II (65%) and Cooper Oborn on Revelwood Showtime (64.21%).
Vanessa was a little disappointed with her test, saying it was not Pronto’s best work.
“He warmed up well and went around the arena fine, but he got a bit fuddled in the first piaffe. In the next piaffe, he started okay, but then he tripped and stopped. So our piaffe, which is normally a highlight, became a die-light! He isn’t his normal self and he doesn’t love the surface, but horses keep you honest. And it’s the first time we’ve got both our two-times and one-tempis in the same test, so we can take that away from today.”
In the Grand Prix Special, Melissa Galloway notched up her second win of the weekend with her brilliant nine-year-old Windermere J’Obei W. Apart from an unlucky stumble near the end of their test, it was another fault-free performance for the pair and they scored 70.18%. There were six starters in the Special and only a couple of marks separated the rest of the field, with Cooper Oborn and Aphrodite second on 66.88%, Bill Millar and Raukura Satori MH third with 66.27%, Jody Hartstone and the newly-gelded Ali Baba fourth on 66.06%, Melissa and Windermere Johanson W fifth on 65.55% and Lucarne Dolley on Ardmore sixth on 64.89%.
Upper Hutt rider Lilly Jefferies won the CDIY Young Rider with the 13-year-old mare Lindisfarne Laureate on 64.95%. Auckland’s Brina Carpenter and Leo Donna were second on 63.33%.
The Grand Prix, Medium Tour and Young Rider titles will be determined tomorrow after the freestyles.