Rylee Sheehan and Bandito NZPH this afternoon rode off with the $33,000 first prize in the Land Rover Gold Tour Final at the Takapoto Classic 2023. Photo by Michelle Clarke Photography
Te Aroha teen Rylee Sheehan may have been the youngest in a field of New Zealand’s best on-shore jumpers but this afternoon he held his mettle and won the nation’s biggest showjumping purse at the Takapoto Classic 2023 in Cambridge.
Twenty top combinations lined up in the Land Rover Gold Tour Final, the culmination of three days of competition over courses designed by one of the world’s very best in Frank Rothenberger.
The seven clears from the opening round were joined by another six on four faults to come back for the second round. That’s where the pressure really came on, with five going clear but only Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), the oldest in the field, aboard Central Park and Rylee aboard Bandito NZPH finishing on zero faults. But it all came down to time, and Rylee’s 46.36 second effort was just too good for Maurice’s 56.25 round.
It was Rylee’s biggest win ever. “My plan for the second round was just to go fast and clear . . . and hopefully win,” he said. The usually confident teen says it was pretty daunting heading into the Land Rover Arena before hundreds of people lining the banks and filling the VIP marquee.
“The atmosphere was full on,” says Rylee, who is a track rider for Te Akau racing. “I felt pretty nervous but as soon as we were over the first in the jump-off I felt we had this.”
It had been quite surreal to look down the winning line-up and see all those he had looked up to throughout his riding career.
Rylee has had the 12-year-old for more than four years and says he loves the horse’s energy and fieriness.
He was torn between putting his prize money into his first home which he had just purchased or taking Bandito to Australia to compete over the winter . . . but that was a discussion to be had with his parents Jarrah and Sheree, who also happen to be his biggest supporters.
Coming in second in the Gold Tour Final was Olympian Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) with Central Park, third was Daniel Blundell (Auckland) on Cadenza NZPH, fourth was Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea, fifth was Sam Van Lierde (Cambridge) on Cadillac NZPH, sixth was Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) on her homebred mare Selena C, seventh was Jeremy Whale (Hampton Downs) on Dolce NZPH, and eighth went to Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) on Windermere Cappuccino.
German course designer Frank Rothenberger was happy for the calibre of jumping at Takapoto. “It was an absolutely fabulous show,” he said. “There was good competition and the legend (Maurice Beatson) became second . . . but it is good to see young riders coming up and winning the big classes.”
The show, which spanned two weeks, has already raised more than $20,000 to go towards the equestrian and farming communities so affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, with donations continuing to come in.
Earlier in the show Rachel Malcolm (Cambridge) and Perseus MVNZ won the Land Rover Silver Tour Final, with the GH MUMM Bronze Tour Final going the way of Glen Beal aboard Soprano, and the Partridge Jewellers Copper Tour Final won by Tara Gower (Ohura) and Double J Image. The John Deere Pony Grand Prix was won by James Steiner (Tauranga) aboard TCG Centadel.
For full results, head to www.main-events.com
The Jumping Team – 27 February 2023