By Rebecca Harper 

It came as somewhat of a nice surprise to Lincoln University student Todd Magner that he’d taken out this season’s Main-Events University Challenge Series.

The 19-year-old, who comes from the West Coast of the South Island, is studying towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce with Professional Accounting and has his horse with him while he’s studying.

His mount for the series was Awatuna Jonesy, a 10-year-old Warmblood Clydie cross by Littorio, owned by Penny Jones.

Todd has had the ride for the last three seasons and the horse has come a long way. “When I first got him he was stopping at liverpools and pickets at 1m-1.10m. Now I’m looking to start him in a few Grand Prixes next season. He’s become more confident in himself.”

Heading into the series final today Todd had only just realised he was guaranteed the win, even though he didn’t attend the finals show. “They only just updated the points and I had made a commitment to work today. And it’s a long way to go, obviously, for one show with one horse,” he said.

“To start with, I just happened to enter those university series classes and then I hunted them out at the end of the season since I was doing quite well. I didn’t expect that (to win) at the start of the season.”

Having ridden competitively since he was 13, up until this season Todd had concentrated on eventing, but is focused on showjumping now – and he’s clearly getting the results.

“It’s awesome, this is my first series title. It’s really cool to win something like this.”

Only three combinations contested the Main-Event University Challenge Series final, run as part of the Mitre10 Mega Masterton Horse Welcome Stakes 1.30m, which was taken out by Palmerston North’s Emily Fraser and Voila, who were also second in the series.

Emily, 21, is studying Agricultural Science at Massey University and keeps her two horses there. No stranger to success, she won gold at the Youth Olympics, won the Pony Grand Prix series twice and has represented New Zealand on several young rider teams. 

She came to series finals specifically for the University and Pro-Amateur finals. She was pleased with Voila, who can be somewhat of an opinionated mare. “It’s her way or the highway, there’s a lot of negotiating – no demanding. I was very pleased with her, she was a bit fresh having three weeks with no shows after HOY, but she was jumping very well.”

Voila is a 13-year-old mare by Voltaire II out of a Witzbold mare. “So double crazy – she’s the demon child sometimes but she was better behaved today.”

Emily has had the mare for four years. She had done the Five-Year-Old Series, but then sat in the paddock until she was nine. “So she was a green nine-year-old.”

Isabella Harley with Brainy G took second place in the final and Drew Carson riding Winston V Driene, who finished seventh in the series, were third.

A trophy, donated to ESNZ Jumping by Anne Vallance, will be awarded for the first time to the series winner.


Main-Events University Series Grand Final: Emily Fraser (Palmerston North) Voila 1, Isabella Harley (Wellington) 2, Drew Carson (Pataruru) 3.

Main-Events University Series: Todd Magner (Hokitika) Lincoln University 85 points 1, Emily Fraser (Palmerston North) Massey University 82 points 2, Anna Parsons (Bay of Plenty)  Massey University 53 points 3, Emma Waite (Ashburton) Lincoln University 38 points 4=, Florence Tapley (Akaroa) Lincoln University 38 points 4=, Hannah Bodle, (Morrinsville) 38 points 4=.