Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) couldn’t be prouder of his mare Cassina Dior, whose third placing in the POLiPayments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Final was good enough for them to take out the series. Photo by Christine Cornege
It was one of the most challenging POLiPayments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series Finals ever in Hawera today with torrential rain, strong winds and soft underfoot, but for two riders, it produced the perfect result.
Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) and Cassina Dior rode off with their first-ever series title after finishing third, while young gun Sophie Scott highlighted again why she is one to watch for the future, taking out the final aboard Waitangi Skynet.
Young gun Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) and Waitangi Skynet flying to victory in the POLiPayments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series Final, picking up just a single time penalty over the two rounds. Photo by Christine Cornege
Phillip’s win gives him the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup final in Omaha, Nebraska, in early April. “We’ll have a bit of a team talk and see what is best for the horse,” he said. “I have thrown everything at this, so to win it, is really special.”
It was a real family effort too, with wife Sally, a previous winner of the series, helping him in the warm-up, son James assisting with gear, son Oli videoing proceedings, and daughter Francie holding court with the children of other World Cup entrants.
“It was horrendous out there,” said Phillip. “It was wet and deep, and just ground we would normally choose not to jump on. It was so slippery and my saddle was like butter, and there were people holding up the jumps as we rode the course.”
But his mare had been incredible. “She tried her heart out. You need a very special horse to do this in these conditions and that’s where I am just so lucky.”
Phillip picked up four faults in the opening round but was clear in the second. “That first round rail was my fault. I watched Brooke (Edgecombe) go in the second and knew she did an extra stride down the last line. I knew she was efficient but not silly and I tried to re-enact that but she was fractionally quicker. I just had to block everything out and do my job.”
Ten started the class with only Sophie Scott leaving all the rails in place over the Heather McDonald designed course. Phillip, along with three time series winner Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) on Windermere Cappuccino, multi final winner Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea, and Sam Whale (Hampton Downs) with Fleur DeLacour, each picked up four faults in the opener.
Five came back for the second round where clears came from both Brooke and Phillip, and while Sophie was clear jumping she picked up a single time penalty. But that was still good enough to take the very prestigious final.
Sophie was rapt to tick off one of her season’s goals. “He was so cool out there,” she said of Waitangi Skynet. “It was not ideal conditions at all but he jumped so well out of the mud. I think he just loves the challenge. Whenever we start in the wet he jumps even better it seems.”
This is just their second season together. “Every win is a good one, but the World Cup final is a bit more important. I liked the course when I walked it . . . and I just wanted to go clear. I knew I would have a time fault when I added down to the last,” she said. “There is always pressure but you need to forget about it and just go out and do what you can do.”
Brooke Edgecombe was second behind Sophie with four faults over the two rounds, coming home in 59.09 seconds, with Phillip third on four in 59.58, Sam Whale fourth on eight in 56.47, Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) aboard Selena C fifth on 16 faults in 56.91, and in sixth equal Tegan Fitzsimon with Windermere Cappuccino, and Emelia Forsyth (Clevedon) aboard Henton Faberge, both of whom opted not to come back for the second round.
POLiPayments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series: Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) 80 points 1, Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) 75 points 2, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 72 points 3, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) 62 points 4, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 60 points 5, Sam Whale (Hampton Downs) 49 points 6.
POLiPayments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series Final: Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) Waitangi Skynet 1, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) LT Holst Andrea 2, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) Cassina Dior 3, Sam Whale (Hampton Downs) Fleur DeLacour 4, Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) Selena C 5, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Windermere Cappuccino and Emelia Forsyth (Clevedon) Henton Faberge =6.
28 January 2023