Special win for Kelly in GAT
It wasn’t that long ago that Kelly Smith thought she would never ride again . . . today she and Corlinka rode off with the honours in the inaugural Global Amateur Tour at Takapoto Estate.
“I am quite speechless,” said the 32-year-old dairy farming mother of four from Foxton. The combination were very consistent over the three rounds, placing seventh in the class and sixth in the series in the opening qualifier and runner-up in both during the second qualifier. Today in the final, a sneaky rail saw them place fourth but they gathered enough points to finish two points ahead of GAT runner-up Paxton Conder (Whatawhata) aboard La Fonteyn.
Kelly bought the horse from Tegan Fitzsimon as a six-year-old but in December 2017 had a fall which resulted in a head injury. “I have had a few and was told to take a break from riding,” she said. Takapoto Estate Show Jumping is just their third show back after a year-long break.
“I was definitely nervous but it is so good to be back riding like this.” While she was on a break, her young cousin Brigitte Smith took over the ride on Corlinka, winning Junior Rider of the Year in 2018 and just generally doing an “amazing job” with the nine-year-old mare.
“Everyone has been so supportive, it quite incredible,” said Kelly, “particularly my family. I had no expectations coming into this show, I just wanted to enjoy myself. I was aiming for clear rounds and just wanted to build our confidence.”
The track was big, bold and technical and challenged the field. “She jumped so well. It is just amazing to win.”
The two best placed Kiwis have the opportunity to attend any of the 2019 GAT events and Kelly would dearly love to do that but says it will be a discussion to have with the family.
“I actually didn’t think I was ever going to ride again just with my family and the possible risk of injury, but I was really missing it. I think you should do what you love.”
She plans to continue competing at lower levels and having lots of fun.
Lucy Olphert, GAT co-founder, said the nine visiting international riders had had a blast. “They’ve all had their highs and lows and struggles, but still achieved little wins in their own rights and I have been seeing plenty of smiles. They have all learned so much this week.”
For Lucy, win or lose in the ring, GAT is about the overall experience. “The camaraderie between riders and the Kiwi hospitality has been just outstanding.”
She was pleased GAT had come right down to the wire to decide the winner. The next event will be in Mexico in June.
“We can’t thank Takapoto enough for allowing us to bring it here. This was the obvious place to have it as the event is already positioned as a very prestigious show with an international presence. We feel we have added a further dimension to is and one we hope will be here to stay.”
GAT results (three rounds):
- Kelly Smith (Foxton) Corlinka (warmblood by Corland, out of Cufflink – owned by Kelly Smith) 105 points
- Paxton Conder (Whatawhata) La Fonteyn (thoroughbred cross by Littorio, out of Tree Spider – owned by Paxton Conder) 103 points
- Alexander Dattelkremer (Brazil) Double J Beyonce (NZ sport horse by Double J Repicharge, out of JK Madam Seattle) 100.5