By Rebecca Harper
The trip to series finals in Masterton paid dividends for both the winners of the EquiBreed NZ and VDL Leading Mare and EquiBreed NZ Leading Stallion crowns for the 2017-2018 season.
Waipukurau’s Brooke Edgecombe and LT Holst Andrea took the leading mare prize, while Eros K was named leading stallion for Christchurch’s Steffi Whittaker.
Brooke has had a busy season, juggling a new baby with her riding and racking up some impressive results with the nine-year-old mare, which she part owns with Ewen MacIntosh from Lake Taupo Holsteiners.
It was a pleasant surprise to learn Andrea had taken out the leading mare prize. “I knew of the series but it had completely slipped my mind. She has been super consistent this season so it’s nice she has been rewarded. There are a lot of good mares at the moment jumping at the higher levels, so I was definitely surprised,” Brooke said.
“I was very pleased for Andrea but also really pleased for Ewen.”
Ewen imported the mare, who is by Casall Ask out of Palaune, from Germany.
“He’s new to breeding and is starting to get them old enough that they are out competing; slowly they are becoming more and more prominent in the result, which is really cool for him.”
The relationship started about seven years ago when Ewen asked Brooke and her husband Oliver to break in a couple of horses for him, and grew from there.
“That was when he was very new into the sport and breeding. He owns a shearing contracting business and inherited a couple of horses from his brother when he passed away. He’s so passionate about breeding and has what I would call a boutique breeding operation out of Taupo – not huge, but quality.
“He basically does all the research and makes the breeding decisions. When the time comes, we break them in and then we go 50/50 from there on.”
The mare has already had three foals and Ewen uses her as one of his main breeding mares. “Winning this prize kind of validates that decision.”
Brooke and LT Holst Andrea had four World Cup starts this season for four placings. “So she was pretty consistent, and also did the Grand Prix series for a win and prizes in most starts.”
The combination were sixth overall in the Bayleys Real Estate Premier League Series, also placing sixth in the series finals class over the weekend.
“Competition wise, this season just been she was quite green at World Cup level so the aim next season will be to consolidate her at that level and aim for a series prize. Ewen will probably pull a couple of embryos next season too, so it’s great she can be breeding and competing.
“I think it’s a great series and prize to get because, as we now know, the mare and the performance it’s had is so important when you’re breeding – not just the stallion. It’s good to reward mares for what they bring to the table and a big thanks to EquiBreed NZ and VDL for continuing to support this award.”
Steffi had a great show, winning the finals classes for both the Junior Rider and Young Rider events, as well as taking the leading stallion title.
The 18-year-old has just finished school and is now working at Berkley Thoroughbred Stud. She made the long trip up to Masterton knowing she had the chance to improve her overall standing in several series.
“I was so close in the series and it’s great to come up here because they look after us and it’s such a nice show.”
She didn’t expect to take the leading stallion title, but was very excited to win, especially given it was the last show of the season. The combination also placed fifth in the Bayleys Real Estate Premier League final class, which was just their second start in the Premier League.
Steffi bought three horses to series finals, her own Ngahiwi Cruise and Eros K, and Tribute OL, owned by the Flett family. “Thanks to them for the ride.”
Eros K is owned by the Whittaker family, along with Steffi’s grandparents, who have been great supporters of hers and love to attend shows. “It gives them something to do, they usually come to every show and they love it.”
She likens Eros to a bigger version of her old pony Moonlight Glow, who she enjoyed huge success with, including winning the Pony of the Year title at HOY.
Eros K is an Irish Warmblood 12-year-old chestnut stallion by Guidam, out of Dutchess De La Bryere. He was imported from Ireland as a four-year-old by Josh Barker, who they purchased the horse from.
While she wasn’t looking to buy a stallion, Steffi says Eros is easy to have around. “We have colts at home as we are a harness racing family, so it’s not something new and, literally, he is so easy.”
The leading stallion series was a goal for the season, but she didn’t expect to actually win it as she has had the horse for less than a year.
“We did the Young Rider classes and then started doing Grand Prix in November, and now we’ve done two Premier Leagues. He’s been pretty good and is usually in the top placings, with one Grand Prix and one Premier League win. I’ve taken him slowly and he’s kept improving. Now we have a bond and have connected so well, which helps a lot.
“I’m learning a lot at the moment and hopefully I can get better over the bigger heights.”
Her goals with the horse are to get to World Cup and possibly take Eros to Australia to compete at Elysian Fields. “That would be awesome.”
The ESNZ Leading Eight-Year-Old prize went to Graffiti MH, ridden by Melody Matheson. Bred by Matthews Hanoverians, Graffiti MH is a bay mare by Graf Top, out of Elode.
EquiBreed NZ and VDL Leading Mare Series (Highest placing mare in the Premier League and Grand Prix Series)
LT Holst Andrea ridden by Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 80 points.
EquiBreed NZ Leading Stallion Series (Highest placing stallion in the Premier League and Grand Prix Series)
Eros K ridden by Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) 61 points.
Leading 8 Year Old Series: (Highest placing eight year old in the Premier League and Grand Prix Series)
Graffiti MH ridden by Melody Matheson (Hawke’s Bay) 69 points.