The 2019 Land Rover Horse of the Year Show has got off to a great start with perfect Hawkes Bay weather and some great jumping in the main arena.

Alex Loiselle and his horse Bandito NZPH (pictured) took out the premier event on Tuesday, the IRT horse 1.40m class.

It was a big field of over 70 competitors who set out to win, but the testing course designed by German Werner Deeg saw the field whittled down to just seven for the jump off. 

Canterbury’s Tegan Fitzsimon on Windermere Cappuccino was the first to show everyone how it was done, but she elected not to start her star in the jump off, saving him for the bigger events later in the show including the New Zealand Horse of the Year on Sunday. 

Drew Carsen was therefore the first of the riders with clear rounds to jump off, but she elected to retire her horse Winston V Driene after having two rails down.  Julie Davey on Joligne De Carmel looked great and jumped clear in a time of 63.32 to take the lead. Belischi HM, ridden by Emily Hayward, with plenty of encouragement from the sideline, was faster than Julie on 61.54, but unfortunately had four faults.  Tegan Fitzsimon on her second horse, Double J Monarch went even faster, finishing in 59.51 but had the first of the double down.  Laura Inskter on Oporaes Jackamoe set out at a great rate, but had the second fence down. She kept her foot on the peddle though, and galloped down to the last to have a great time of 58.9.  The last competitor was Canadian Alex Loiselle and his Kiwi horse, Badito NZPH. They jumped beautifully and their pace down to the last was breath-taking, but they jumped clear, and on a time of 57.29, were clear winners. Julie settled for second, with Laura, Tegan and Emily filling up the other placings.

Invercargill’s Nicole White and LC Samson and Cambridge’s Natasha Brooks and Twerk were unlucky to not make it to the jump off having jumped clear but both incurring one time fault.

The class also served as the qualifier for the Ultra-Mox Lady Rider of the Year and going on the way the women went today, that is going to be an exciting final on Thursday.

The only man in the jump-off, Alex was delighted with his win and his 8-year-old horse which he bought off his employer, NZPH last year. “He’s a fast horse, and after riding him last year for NZPH, I decided I needed to buy him.”

Alex is from Ottowa, Canada and has been in New Zealand long enough to do three Horse of the Year Shows. This was the first time Alex had the “Stand Up for the Champions’ song played for him however. Alex says he has his ‘dream’ job at NZPH in Ocean Beach and he is hoping to become a permanent resident soon.

He says this is the show that is always the first circled in his calendar. “There is no show like it in Canada. The number of horses and the diverse disciplines makes it unique. It is also the longest event in New Zealand.”  

Alex hasn’t decided whether he will start Bandito tomorrow in the Bucas Silver Fern Stakes or just wait until the Canterbury Equestrian Premier Stakes on Saturday. He also has some young horses in the age classes.