Palmerston North’s Laura Knight has won this year’s prestigious Saddlery Barn South Island Young Event Horse Championship aboard her four-year-old thoroughbred gelding Chivas Royale.
Held as the precursor to the main event, the NZCT South Island FEI Three Day Event which gets under way today with the dressage phase, the young event class is open to rising equine stars of the future aged four and five years.
Knight was genuinely surprised with the win. Chivas Royale was a racetrack reject by the sire His Royal Highness.
Fourteen combinations started, including six four-year-olds and only two mares. It was judged across dressage (30%), show jumping (30%), movement and conformation (20%), and gallop suitable for cross country (20%) by an international line-up which headed by president of the ground jury Nicoli Fife, who has been on the ground jury at international events worldwide including Badminton, Kentucky and the Asian Games, judging the show jumping phase.
The dressage was judged by visiting UK judge Gill Makey-Harfield alongside South Canterbury’s Stuart Bishell, while Kumeu’s Winky Foley judged the conformation.
It was a tightly fought battle, with little separating leaders Julie Batchelor’s S.E. Godswalk, ridden by Brent Jury, and Katharine Gilllaly (Woodville) on Double J Sunshine, before the gallop phase. Knight was sitting in sixth going into the gallop, but catapulted herself up the leaderboard with a stunning display to take the Best Four Year Old and Overall award on a total score of 70.04.
Gillaly took second and Best Five Year Old with Double J Sunshine, a son of Repecharge, on 69.1, while third went to West Melton’s Kristen Beaven and the Thoroughbred RV Dreamcatcher on 68.8. S.E. Godswalk, a daughter of the Canterbury-based warmblood sire Kinnordy Gym Bello, finished fourth and was the Best Performed Mare for the second year running.
The main action in the South Island Three Day Event will get under way today with the dressage phase for all classes.
Aside from class honours, competitors in the CCI2* will also be vying for the Swarbrick Trophy for the National Young Rider Three Day Event champion, while those in the CCI1* will be fighting it out for the Lenamore Trophy for National Junior Rider Three Day Event champion.
Entries across all levels are strong with more than 200 combinations taking part including a strong North Island contingent.
RESULTS: Saddlery Barn Young Event Horse – Laura Knight (Palmerston North) Chivas Royale, 70.04, 1; Katharine Gillaly (Woodville) Double J Sunshine, 69.1, 2; Kirsten Beaven (West Melton) RV Dreamcatcher, 68.8, 3; Brent Jury (Rangiora) S.E. Godswalk, 67.72, 4; Emily Cammock (West Melton) Cavorts (owned by Kay Buckley) 66.28, 5; Tayla Mason (Paraparaumu) Mosaic II, 66.23, 6. Best Four Year Old – Chivas Royale. Best Five Year Old – Double J Sunshine. Best Performed Mare – S.E. Godswalk.