Brooke Edgecombe says she has never quite believed in herself. But today at the thrilling climax of the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show, with tears in her eyes and the Olympic Cup in her arms, was a whole different story. “That self belief, it’s been the biggest thing my whole riding career,” she says. “I never thought I could do it. Today, I believed that I could.”
As she and LT Holst Andrea were about to ride back into the ring to jump off against Melody Matheson and Cortaflex Graffiti MH, Brooke’s husband Oliver – who won the Olympic Cup himself in 2007 – said to her: “You can do it.”
“And that was it, that was the difference. I thought, yes, I can.”
Brooke says that Andrea isn’t the fastest horse, and after two tough rounds, she feared she might have run out of gas. “I knew Mel was quick behind me, and so the plan was to go clear and put pressure on her.”
Werner Deeg’s forward and flowing tracks clearly suited Brooke and Andrea, who once again left all the rails in place, stopping the clock at 50.53 seconds.
Melody, who was understandably hoping to go one better after second place in this class last year, had her mare at full throttle, but sadly for her took a rail at the Land Rover oxer right under the grandstand. She retired at that stage, showing commendable horsemanship.
The minor placings were a repeat of last year, with Melody second, and Tegan Fitzsimon third with Windermere Cappuccino – who was clear in round one but took a rail in round two.
The first round started superbly, with tiny 17-year-old Annabel Francis very nearly going clear on Carado GHP; they were terrific all the way until just tipping the very last fence.
Next out was Maurice Beatson who had three rails with Central Park, and then Brooke showed everyone how it should be done, clear.
Some of the youngest and least experienced riders had some of the best rounds of the 21 starters: Emelia Forsyth with Henton Faberge, Lucinda Askin with Portofino, Drew Carson with Winston V Driene, Sarah West with Oaks Centurian and Kimberley Bird with Cera Cassina were all on just four faults. To the delight of the crowd, so was Todd Magner and the somewhat unorthodox Awatuna Jonesy, the Clydesdale cross trying his absolute level best to fling himself over the massive fences.
Unfortunately for him, Robert Steele was the slowest of the eight four-faulters on LT Holst Bernadette, and did not progress into round two.
Over a shortened and heightened track, round two started with Annabel and Carado GHP going clear, in a time of 69.90, so the gauntlet was well and truly down.
None of the other four-faulters were able to match that, so it was down to the three women on zero scores. Brooke and Andrea were reasonably slow, stopping the clock at 69.63 seconds, but more importantly were clear.
Tegan’s starry little Windermere Cappuccino looked an absolute picture, and it was an absolute surprise that he just tipped a rail in the double.
So then it was Melody’s turn, and she and the powerful Graffiti looked rather ominously on-form, clear and a full three seconds faster than Brooke and Andrea.
To the delight of the crowd this meant we had a jump-off though, and it also meant that no matter what, the Olympic Cup was going to be won by a Hawke’s Bay local for the first time since 2013.