Briar’s special double

Briar’s special double

Briar Burnett-Grant secured a welcome double today, taking out both the Gold and Bronze Tour Qualifiers. Takapoto Estate will always hold a special place in the heart of the Taupo teen. Today, she and her full-of-life strawberry roan Fiber Fresh Veroana took out the second Gold Tour Qualifier, flying home in 72.08 seconds with Melody Matheson (Hastings) and her in-form mare Cortaflex Graffiti MH in second in 74.25 seconds.

Briar and Flash, as he’s known at home, won the same class last year. Then it was her late father Dave who presented her with the prize. “He’d just got out of hospital, so it was very special to win again today,” said the 18-year-old.

“Flashy was so good today. The course was really nice – it was built to open the stride and flowed really well. Flash was in his element. Speed is our forte!”

It was Briar’s first win at Takapoto this year. She and Veroana placed eighth in the Gold Tour Final last week but she’s clear that she’s here to win this time.

“Flash is feeling so awesome. It was nice to let him go today – he’s been fighting me to go faster and I’ve been holding him back.”

She backed that up with victory in the Bronze Tour Qualifier aboard her 10-year-old German-imported mare Fiber Fresh Casallita who headed home 50 other combinations to take the win.

“She’s a super consistent horse,” says Briar. “She is very careful and scopey.” The two were second in the warm-up and fourth in the first qualifier.

“I didn’t even get a chance to walk the course because I was in the other arena. My plan was to go for a nice round with a good rhythm. I wasn’t sure we would win but she is faster than she looks!”

The Burnett-Grants imported her as a five-year-old in foal from Germany and Briar is now about to compete aboard the young gelding. Briar was chuffed to have her trainer Jeff McVean on hand to help.

Tim Bruce has nothing but praise for his “lovely big horse” Limousine . . . especially after the Waikato combination took out the Amateur Tour Qualifier today.

It was big field with 45 starters, including riders from the Global Amateur Tour. Fifteen combinations moved through to the jump-off where Tim and Limousine really found their rhythm, coming home double clear in 29.21 seconds. Nearest to them was Kaleigh Kent (Otane) and Double J Sponge Bob Square Pants who stopped the clock at 31.5. The top four combinations were all double clear.

Tim’s partner Rowan Dixon found the horse on Trade Me. “He had started bucking and was looking for a home,” says Tim. It took them a while but they built up the horse’s confidence hand walking in Woodhill Forest. The 11-year-old started his competition career as a six-year-old but Tim’s farrier work takes priority and it has meant not a lot of competition over the past two years.

“Full credit to the horse,” said Tim, who was pleased to have Rowan’s calming influence at the event today. “I rode dreadfully yesterday and I went home apologising to him. The horse will jump anything you put in front of him. He doesn’t wait for a fence and is always moving up. He is so talented and clever.

It makes jump-offs a far more enjoyable pastime for the two. “I overthink the first rounds.” Rowan always breathes a sigh of relief too once they progress through the first round. “I can breathe when he gets to the jump-off because they can just gallop,” she said.

Tim and Limousine were a late entry into the class and didn’t realise they needed to nominate the horse to be part of the Global Amateur Tour, so missed out on a beautiful rug and having the national anthem played for him.

“Hey, I was thrilled just to get around and even more with the win,” he said.

It was a memorable day for Lucy Olphert and her Global Amateur Tour co-founders Christian Lopez Redetzki and Alexander Dattelkremer as their first New Zealand round got underway.

Held as part of the Amateur Tour Qualifier, the riders received an official powhiri and welcome from local iwi Ngati Poroki Kahukura and the Mayor of Waipa, have been sightseeing and are now enjoying their immersion in New Zealand’s most beautiful show.

Lucy says they are in their element. “The powhiri was an incredibly special ceremony for them. It included a haka and that was something they had never seen.” Their trip to Rotorua included more culture with dinner and a show.

Today GAT riders from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Germany and Australia competed in the class with Alexander Dattelkremer and Double J Beyonce the best of the visitors. GAT riders will accumulate points over the three rounds, carrying those through. New Zealand riders are also competing as part of GAT and after today’s competition, Kaleigh Kent leads, with Olivia Glen in second, Alexander in third, Paxton Conder fourth, Taryn Skelton-Kyd fifth and sixth Kelly Smith.

“It is really cool to have GAT here for the first time,” says Lucy, “and for it to be held alongside such a prestigious show. I think it is a real taste of New Zealand for these riders to see this setting – they are all buzzing about it.”

The original idea for GAT came from Copa Lopetzki, a Mexican masters show run by Katrin Redetzki and Christian Lopez Redetzki. “I took a couple of riders over to the show three years and we sat down after the competition and discussed the lack of opportunities for amateur riders. It’s just grown out of that.”

The first official GAT competition was held in Brazil in September and it is quickly gaining more momentum. Lucy and her fellow founders have big plans for the future.

It’s a party at the Watson household tonight with Emma Watson picking up a win in the Pony Speed Championship alongside her Mexican visitor Maya Denis who was first in the Junior Tour Qualifier earlier in the day.

Emma and her former Pony of the Year star Maddox Fun House were the only combination of 33 starters to go clear in the class, coming home in 65.93 seconds. “I didn’t want to go too fast but I did was a good draw for tomorrow, so was chasing a clear round,” said Emma.

Today was her first class at Takapoto with 13-year-old Fun House. “It was great out there. It was a good course and very open and flowing, which suited her perfectly. Pink just gives everything every single time.”

Emma felt it was very much a team effort today, with help from mum Melissa and her visitor Maya who warmed Pink up for her while she was competing on her other pony.

There were a flurry of four faulters who filled the minor placings. Second-placed Tyla Hackett and The Dreamer notched the fastest time of the class with their 60.7 second effort, but a rail at the second put paid to a win.

The New Zealand experience is proving a big learning curve with lots of highlights for Mexican visitor Maya. Aboard Mark Weedon’s Cadenza the 15-year-old won the opening Junior Tour Qualifier, heading home 26 other combinations to take the honours.

“I like this horse a lot,” said Maya. She is staying with Emma who she met at the FEI Jumping Children’s Classics. “Cadenza is very easy to ride and very pleasant to be around.” Maya’s goal today was for a clear round. “I didn’t cut corners too much but just kept a nice rhythm. I am very happy with the win.”

Last week the combination placed fifth in the qualifier and sixth in the final. “I would love to go better than sixth in this week’s final.”

Maya is loving New Zealand. “It is a little different though in some ways – in Mexico we have grooms who do everything for us. It is the opposite here but I am loving spending more time with my horse.”

 There was lots of fun and frivolity with plenty of friendly banter for the final of the Dr Feelgood Area Teams’ Event this evening with EquiFibre Bay of Plenty riding off with the spoils of the day but Northern Hawke’s Bay crowned champs of the series.

Six teams started in the final with just Northern Hawke’s Bay, Longridge Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, EquiFibre Bay of Plenty and Waikato coming back for the second round.

Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay couldn’t hold on to their lead from the first round and added 20 faults to finish the competition on 33 faults and in fourth place. Waikato and Northern Hawke’s Bay added 12 apiece to end up on 28 and 27 respectively to fill third and second spots, with Bay of Plenty riding off with the win on 24 faults.

Valuable points gathered today gave Northern Hawke’s Bay the series crown from the five competitions, with 19 points, with Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay in second on 16 points and Bay of Plenty third with 15.

 For full results, head to www.equestrianentries.co.nz