Emily Hayward and her former race horse Belischi HM won the class of their lives today, heading home a super field to win the Olympic Cup at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show and pocket a cool $20,000 for their efforts.
Included in the line-up were four riders who had previously won the cup, with three combinations who have claimed it in recent years.
Earlier in the show the 19-year-old won her second consecutive Young Rider of the Year crown and says she just didn’t anticipate she would be the one at the top of the podium on the closing day of the show.
“It is the most incredible feeling,” she said. “He wasn’t an amazing racehorse but had the odd prize.” But the nine-year-old has a big stride and speed on his side when needed. Emily drew confidence from being the fastest clear in each of the two rounds. “You can take risks in the jump-off you wouldn’t in the early rounds.”
Belischi may be green, but Emily said he always aims to please and hates touching rails. She’s had him for coming up three years and came to HOY not expecting a lot from him in the big class. However, after the first few fences in the jump-off she knew they were in with a chance.
“His previous owners, Pete and Michelle McMahon, will be so happy. I didn’t think I would be emotional but I am just so proud of him.”
Twenty started the class with the top 10 coming back for the second round. Sitting on zero faults in the first were Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) aboard her former Olympic Cup winner, Euro Sport Centavos, FEI World Cup (NZ) Series Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) aboard Windermere Cappuccino, Melody Matheson (Hastings) and her well-performed mare Cortaflex Graffiti MH, 16-year-old Annabel Francis (Taupo) and her gorgeous Aussie import Carado GHP, Silver Fern Stakes winner Tom Tarver (Kawerau) and Equifibre Popeye and Emily on her bred-to-race Australian thoroughbred Belischi HM.
Clears in the second came first from Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea who was carrying four faults from her opener, then Tegan, Melody and Emily who all remained on zero, forcing a jump-off.
In a brilliant display of horsewomanship, the three women each rode stunning clears with each going faster than the combination before. Tegan and Cappuccino were out first, stopping the clock at 44.22 seconds. Melody and Graffiti were next and while they had a life at the planks, pushed even harder and came home in 42.54 seconds.
It left it all on the shoulders of 19-year-old Emily and Belischi with his sometimes awkward jumping style. He had the crowd behind him and their hearts in their mouths as he cleared each jump, to cross the flags in 41.98 seconds and win the class. Melody was second, with Tegan third.
Jessica Collinson (Clevedon) and Ngahiwi Cruise may have only been together four months but this afternoon pulled off the stuff that dreams are made of with victory in the Fiber Fresh Feeds Junior Rider of the Year. The 18-year-old was over the moon with the win and her horse. “He is just amazing,” she said. “He tries his little heart out.”
Their partnership didn’t get off to the best of starts but now they are solid. “He has always had good riders on him, so has no tolerance for bad riding, which is a good thing but had meant he has lawn data-ed me a few times.” That said, Cruise has taught he so much and her other horse Bunny Hop is also benefiting.
It was rather nerve-wracking for the rider to be competing in the premier arena. “To actually even have a shot was very scary.” Thirty started the class with eight coming back for the jump-off where Jessica was the only one to finish with a clean slate. Ally Carson (Putaruru) and Whiorau Ritchie was second and Olivia Dalton (Karaka), who won the equitation component of the class, third aboard Appleton.
“Cruise was so good,” said Jessica. “He just jumped out of his skin. My amazing coach Duncan McFarlane just told me to be calm, still and efficient, and to go for the clear.”
Cruise has previously helped two riders win the Junior Rider crown.
Olympic Cup – New Zealand Horse of the Year: Emily Hayward (Cambridge) Belischi HM 1, Melody Matheson (Hastings) Cortaflex Graffiti MH 2, Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) Windermere Cappuccino 3, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) LT Holst Andrea 4, Tom Tarver (Kawerau) Equifibre Popeye 5, Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) Euro Sport Centavos 6, Annabel Francis (Taupo) Carado GHP 7, Nakeysha Lammers (Taranaki) Resolution 8, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Gold Locks 9, Drew Carson (Putaruru) Winston V Driene 10.
Fiber Fresh Feeds Junior Rider of the Year: Jessica Collinson (Clevedon) Ngahiwi Cruise 1, Ally Carson (Putaruru) Whiorau Ritchie 2, Olivia Dalton (Karaka) Appleton 3, Tyla Hackett (Waiuku) George Jetson 4, Samantha Carrington (Hawke’s Bay) Double J Breeze On 5, Colleen Crous (Auckland) Orames Girl VDL 6.
Diana Dobson, 17th March 2019