It was a special day for two long time patrons of equestrian sport as they were inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame on Thursday evening.
63 year old Julie Brougham and 69 year old Ross Coles were both inducted thanks to their many years of service to the sport they are so passionate about.
Brougham was the oldest competitor at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her chestnut stallion Vom Feinsten, and has recently been selected to represent New Zealand once again at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in the USA later this year.
Her contribution to dressage is significant and her success at the highest level of the sport is impressive – she is just the third Kiwi to have competed in dressage at an Olympic Games while also scoring higher than those who came before her.
Fellow rider Ross Coles comes from the show jumping side of things but his career is no less stellar. Having represented New Zealand internationally as a younger man, he was chef d’equipe for the New Zealand show jumping team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Coles hunted with Pakuranga Hunt for 25 years, was clerk of the course at Ellerslie Racecourse and still plays the part of technical delegate at shows all around the country. His service to Horse of the Year has spanned decades and his passion for the event and for the sport of show jumping is undeniable.
Out in the Premier Jumping Arena, the competition is starting to heat up with today seeing the Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year crowned. 30 started the all-female class and the two round competition was exciting right down to the very end.
She’s won it before but this win was pretty special for Cambridge based professional rider Lisa Cubitt. On Matawai Sentana, a horse she has only been riding for six weeks for owner Jacqui Wright, she was clear in the first round. A bit of a stumble over the second fence in round two saw the rail come down and she put her foot down to be the fastest four faulter.
A couple of seconds separated Cubitt from second placed Kimberley Bird on Cera Cassina, who also had a rail down in the second round to follow their clear in the first. Her fellow South Island rider Tegan Fitzsimon settled into third just behind her with the lovely Double J Monarch and Waikato based Emily Hayward was fourth with Belischi HM.
Cubitt was understandably thrilled with the win, putting it down to good preparation. Her solid plan had been for a second clear round but the early rail meant she had to ride for time and her flying finish over the last fence was certainly impressive to watch.
Thursday also saw the first pony class in the Premier Jumping Arena with the final round of the Pony Championship Stakes, standing at approximately 1.25m.
26 ponies started the second round with several South Islanders in the mix and it was a mixed bag right from the start. Of the seven clears eventually posted there were four sitting on double clear when the points were added together, and a four way jump off commenced.
First out was Emma Watson on Maddox Fun House, a combination which has dominated the Pony Grand Prix classes all summer long. Their time was the quickest of the group but a rail down meant they settled for third place with Sophie Scott and Grace Manera jumping clear for first and second aboard Benrose Playtime and Tallyho Scoundrel respectively.
The other major title awarded was the GJ Gardner Pro-Amateur Rider of the Year which went to James Cottle and Oracle WT. The son of well decorated show jumper John Cottle, James has recently returned to the competition arena with much success. Second place went to Sally Clark, the partner of Dannevirke’s Maurice Beatson, riding Victoria’s Secret.
Friday will see the Hastings Heart of Hawke’s Bay Friday Night Extravaganza as well as the Horseware Silver Fern Stakes including the New Zealand versus Australia senior test team match. All eyes will be on the Kiwi team at 6.00pm as they defend the nation against the visiting team.
Source: News Release by Horse of the Year Show New Zealand
Photo: © Horse of the Year Show – New Zealand