Molly Smith and Vapour Trail NZPH competing at the Tavendale and Partners New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championships – Photo by Michelle Clarke Photography
Molly Smith ticked off one of her big goals for the season at the weekend when she steered Vapour Trail NZPH to victory in the Zealandia Horticulture NZ Pony Championship Title (part of the Country TV Pony Grand Prix Series) on the final day of competition at the Tavendale and Partners New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championships in Christchurch.
The Geraldine 14-year-old is only in her second season of Grand Prix aboard a pony she has had for just a year-and-a-half. “I have wanted to win this since I first started going to Nationals when I was about five or six years old,” she says. “This is a dream come true.”
Her Nationals journey started in show hunter and in 2019 she won the Cat B crown before switching to showjumping a year or so later. “Mum used to ride so she made me do show hunter until I got it right. It has definitely made my riding how it is now.”
Vapour Trail NZPH is cheeky, quirky and can be a little difficult in the warm-up. “He’s pretty hot but that’s just how he has always been. He is pretty spoiled!”
Her plan for Nationals was to be “up there” from the opening day of competition. “I was third on the first day and then jumped double clear on the second to win the class so was leading coming into the final day. It was a bit of pressure, and I was pretty nervous going into the final round.”
But they needn’t have worried with their double clear taking the crown and etching their names on the Hampton Trophy.
“Anything can happen with horses, so you just have to take it as it comes,” said Molly. “It’s a great way to finish our South Island season.” Molly has two more seasons at Grand Prix level left.
She’s inspired by fellow South Islander Tegan Fitzsimon. “She is my favourite New Zealand rider for sure. I like the way she goes.”
The family live on a cropping farm around 45 minutes from Timaru where there is lots of room to hack out. ”The horses just love it.”
Mum Kelly Evans is her number one supporter, who rides her ponies when she’s at boarding school, trains her and carts her around the countryside to compete. Then there’s Toni and Colin McIntosh as well as Jeff McVean who both contribute to Molly’s training.
Next in Molly’s sights is the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show. “Placing in Pony of the Year would be pretty cool . . . imagine that!”
The Jumping Team – 13 February 2023