It was show pony day at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show, with the open titles all decided in perfect conditions.
Cambridge’s Billie Roach (16) continued her winning ways, making it back-to-back wins in the Medium Pony of the Year (over 128cm and not exceeding 138cm) aboard the Linden Pony Stud’s ultra-consistent mare Linden Just A Dream.
The win capped off a dream season for the pair, who have won every supreme championship they’ve lined up for this season. For Billie, this HOY is particularly special as she won the Large Saddle Hunter Pony of the Year yesterday aboard Brookfields In Your Dreams, who is the full sister of Linden Just A Dream. It was also a pretty emotional way to end her time on ponies, as she turns 17 at Easter.
“It’s been an amazing show. I’ve won three out of four titles, so I’ve been pretty lucky,” she says.
Billie paid special tribute to Airlie Holley of the Linden Pony Stud, for giving her the ride on the six-year-old Brookfields in Your Dreams. “She’s been an amazing pony for me over the past three seasons, winning just about everything she can.”
Reserve in the Medium pony class went the way of Pahiatua’s Ella Rankin and KS Mr Postman.
In the Large Pony of the Year, the Aplin family’s sensational 14-year-old gelding, Woodlands Park Light O’Day, scored a record fifth title win with 11-year-old Lillie Wallace of Otaki in the saddle.
The pony was previously campaigned by Rebecca Aplin, who rode him to success in title class in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Lillie took him over in January, and has literally only had a handful of rides on him.
But Lillie and ‘Sparky’, as he is known at home, had a win yesterday in the Paced & Mannered Pony of the Year, and today their confidence grew under the pressure, and they produced an eye-catching workout to seal victory ahead of some lovely combinations. Lillie was all smiles, having just won her first Open HOY crown having previously won titles in both the Lead Rein and First Ridden sections. “It’s super-exciting. It was a really strong class,” she says.
Last year’s winners, Linden Realms of Glory in the hands of Liam Murphy from Auckland, had to settle for reserve.
Earlier, a small but quality field of combinations made their way out into the arena for the Small Show Pony of the Year, under 128cm. While the judges certainly had their work cut out, eventual honours went to Pahiatua’s Brooklyn Rankin (11) riding the 13-year-old Windsor English’e Kisses, for the second year on the trot, with reserve to Isla Bowley and Sir Pranze Alot.
The showing action will conclude tomorrow with the coveted Hack of the Year and Paced & Mannered Hack of the Year title class, as well as the Junior Rider title classes.