Australian’s young rider team rallied today in the final of the Trans Tasman clash, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Kiwis claiming glory at the Larsen Sawmilling Showjumping Championships in Gisborne.
The New Zealand team – Melody Matheson (Hastings), Olivia Robertson (Christchurch), Emily Fraser (Feilding) and Sam Morrison (Tauranga) – headed into the third and final day with an unassailable lead but, with nothing to lose the Australians – Jock Rice-Ward, Georgie Siciliano, Jamie Priestly and Sam Buchanan – gave it their all, saving a little dignity and taking the third day’s competition.
Australian chef d’equipe and coach, Michelle Lang-McMahon was full of praise for her young charges and the hospitality they had received while in New Zealand.
New Zealand assistant coach Helen McNaught-McFarlane was also rapt with her riders, three of whom had been on the losing side to Australia when the teams last met.
Robertson added to her success at the show with a solid victory in the Equissage Horse Grand Prix. Six of the 11 starters over the John Vallance (Australia) designed course came back for the jump-off.
Robertson and DH’s Ceniki had the advantage of being last to go, but it was still no cruise to victory. She guided her European import to a lovely clear in 36.09 seconds.
Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) and Dunstan Springfield, jumping his first grand prix in some time, was deceptively fast over the ground to his clear in 36.28, to place second, with Matheson and Landenfeld third with their clear efforts in 36.85.
The hotly-contested Country TV Pony Grand Prix saw Rotorua teen Oliver Croucher take on a trio of very talented young ladies in Charlotte Amos (Matamata), Maddison Bult (Kumeu) and Tyla Hackett (Waiuku) in the jump-off.
Croucher had two horses, and was out second with Redcliffs Galeforce when he notched a super clear in 35.11 seconds. He had followed Amos and Captain Nemo who laid the challenge with her clear in 38 seconds.
Hackett and Iamwhatiam looked to be giving his time a good nudge but the sparky little chestnut didn’t want to jump the wall, costing time and gaining faults. Croucher came back with Delta JD and was again clear, but time in 35.29.
Last out was Bult who took the first of the double to finish on four faults in 36.17.
Croucher said he knew he had to be right on the money to beat the other three riders in the jump-off of the 14-strong class.
“They are all very good riders,” he said.
He was stoked to win on Galeforce, who he describes as the greenest of his ponies, but the one with the most scope.
It’s his last season in the pony ring and he hopes to go out on a high with success in the Pony of the Year class at the Farmlands Horse of the Year Show in March.