By Devon van Til
There must be something in the breeding when it comes to cousins Steffi Whittaker and Jessica Sonne, who won their respective rider classes at South Canterbury North Otago Summer Championships 20-21 January.
Whittaker pulled off an impressive quinella in the FMG Young Rider. A testing track built by course designer Emma Barker provided just three clear rounds to go through to the jump off. Whittaker set the benchmark on her nominated horse Ngahiwi Cruise coming home clear in 47.46 seconds.
Lucinda Askin and Portofino followed, but focussed on clear jumping rather than speed to finish in 56.51 seconds. Whittaker topped it off with her second horse Eros K to better her own time stopping the clock at 46.64 seconds for the win.
Older cousin Sonne was next up in the Caledonian Holdings Amateur Rider on her golden mare Summer Haze. Placing in most classes so far, Sonne was hanging out for a win in the competitive class. Again only three combinations went through to the jump off.
Times were generally tight over the weekend and Sonne sacrificed two time faults to keep all the rails up. The fastest time came from the last out Jessica Paul on Kuriwao Hawke, but she paid for her speed with a rail down handing Sonne her much awaited win.
Whittaker almost made it a clean sweep for her horses when she lined up in the Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Junior Rider. Seven combinations went through to the jump off and the first double clear came from Sophie Scott and Benrose Roackstar in a decent jump off time of 39.87 seconds.
Whittaker was the next double clear and carved off the time finishing in 36.77 seconds. She hoped it would be enough, but the following rider Olivia Harkerss aboard Astek Reformer threatened the dream run. Harkerss nailed the jump off, stopping the clock in 35.30 seconds to sneak ahead and claim the win.
The last rider class for the day also produced a highly competitive jump off, that being the Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Pro Am. Over the same challenging track the young riders jumped, only five managed a clear round.
First out in the jump off Kirsty Sharapoff and her eventer Shoot The Breeze aced the essential angle and inside turn to finish in a swift 46.35 seconds. Angela Frewer followed with Donala Dundee and she also pulled off the major test, as well as cut a further corner to come home in 44.77 seconds.
Rik van Miltenberg was the last of the double clears, but his large horse Truly Unique couldn’t go quite as fast as the smaller horses before him, leaving the win to Frewer.
Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Horse Grand Prix: Harry Feast (West Melton) Double J Bouncer 1, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Windermere Cappuccino 2, Nicole White (Invercargill) LC Samson 3, Steffi Whittaker (Springston) Eros K 4, Chris Harris (West Melton) Glenbrooke Archie Bunker 5.
Country TV Pony Grand Prix: Grace Manera (West Melton) Rednalhgih Cowan 1, Rosa Buist-Brown (Burnham) Junior Disco 2, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Benrose Eclipse 3, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Benrose Playtime 4, Olivia Adams (West Melton) Mr Black Magic 5, Grace Manera (West Melton) Tallyho Scoundrel 6.
FMG Young Rider: Steffi Whittaker (Springston) Eros K 1, Steffi Whittaker (Springston) Ngahiwi Cruise 2, Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) Portofino 3, Grace Percy (Glenorchy) Kiwi Spirit 4, MaKenzie Causer (Tai Tapu) Elleway GNZ 5, Brodie Roberts (Rangiora) Playmaker 6.
Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Pro Am: Angela Frewer (Leithfield) Donala Dundee 1, Kirsty Sharapoff (West Melton) Shoot The Breeze 2, Rik van Miltenburg (Southland) Truly Unique 3, Devon van Til (Woodend Beach) Winterberg 4, Zoe Shore (Ashburton) Burberry 5, Tamara Silcock (Nelson) Steel Magnolia 6.
Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Junior Rider: Olivia Harkerss (Leeston) Astek Reformer 1, Steffi Whittaker (Springston) Tribute OL 2, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Benrose Roackstar 3, Adam Ford (Kaikoura) Golden Mile 4, Sophie Townsend (West Melton) Kingslea Kiwi 5, Rosa Buist-Brown (Burnham) Prestige 6.
Caledonian Holdings Amateur Rider: Jessica Sonne (Christchurch) Summer Haze 1, Jessica Paul (Otago) Kuriwao Hawke 2, David Hutton (Pleasant Point) Rolux 3, Harriet Gardner (Timaru) Evenstar 4, Michelle Coombes (Southland) Just Amber 5, Kate Cavanagh (Geraldine) Wallflower 6.