By Rebecca Harper
Te Awamutu’s Emily Hayward now has the FMG Young Rider Series title, as well as the Horse of the Year Show title to her name.
Emily had an unassailable lead heading into series finals in Masterton, this is the third year running she has won the Young Rider series, and did not contest the event.
But there were other series placings to play for, with both second placed Oliver Croucher and third placed Steffi Whittaker starting in the final.
Three made it through to the jump-off, including Steffi and Ngahiwi Cruise. Last to go in the jump-off, she was quick and clear, securing the finals victory and moving herself up to second overall in the series.
Oliver dropped to third overall in the series, while Mikayla Herbert and Grand Caballo were third in the finals class, moving up one place to fifth in the series. Sophie Scott and Lakota were second in the finals class, but didn’t feature in the top six on the leaderboard.
Emily, 18, is a fulltime rider and her two main aims for the season with Yandoo Lady Gold were to take out the Young Rider series and HOY title, both of which she achieved.
“I had a bit of a slow start and didn’t get going until the end of November and December. Blondie, the horse I won it on, has been very consistent and had a really good season.”
Yandoo Landy Gold is a 13-year-old Australian Warmblood cross mare by Warlord. “We bought her from Australia in 2013, this is my fifth season with her…she’s pretty special.”
Even though she has won the series three seasons on the trot now, Emily says the series is always very competitive.
“It’s pretty important (the series) and a really good step up to Grand Prix, it’s been a really good contributing class to get me up the heights.”
She was also third overall in the Bayleys Real Estate Premier League Series with A P Ninja.
FMG Young Rider Grand Final: Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Ngahiwi Cruise 1, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Lakota 2, Mikayla Herbert (Rotorua) Grand Caballo 3, Blake Davis (Palmerston North) Giggles 4, Matt Irvine (Takapau) Wall Street III 5, Blake Davis (Palmerston North) Socrates De La Vie Z 6.
FMG Young Rider Series: Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) 181 points 1, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) 140 points 2, Oliver Croucher (Rotorua) 136 points 3, Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) 115 points 4, Mikayla Herbery (Rotorua) 113 points 5, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) 106 points 6.