Riding Zimorena, McVean galloped into the last and gave the fence a bit of a whack, but it stayed in place and the clock stopped at a speedy 42.54.
McVean, who won the title in 2007 with Hairy McClairy and in 2010 with Daffodil, had two horses through to the seven-strong jump-off. It was a classy 43 combinations that rode the first round but very few managed to go inside a tight time over the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course.
Clear rounds were scant, so those through to the jump-off deserved the honour.
McVean and Zimorena were first out, followed by Rosie Commons and her grey Glenara Chandon, who shifted up a gear mid way through the course and came home in 43.84.
Australian visitor Evie Buller and Yalambi’s Landor were also clear in a steady looking 45.25 round, with Claire Wilson and Tipsey throwing everything at it only to knock the last fence and finish on four faults in 42.66.
Carissa McGregor and Chatterton had some big air over most of the jumps but came unstuck at a chequered upright leaving them with four faults in 47.44. Kim Best and Giggles looked on track for a good time until that same chequered fence, which put them off stride for the next jump, leaving them on eight faults in 47.86.
Last to go was McVean and the grey Dunstan Zasjany D who left everything up in 47.08 to claim fourth spot.
“I thought if I tried to go flat out I would do something stupid,” said McVean, 25.
Both Zasjany and Zimorena are co-owned by McVean with Theo Griffin and Henk Smit, and were imported from The Netherlands.
Zimorena was a late starter in the world of showjumping, having been broken in as a five-year-old on her arrival in New Zealand.
“She’s good if I can keep her rolling on but she is green at this level,”she said.
McVean says she expected the Palacios course to be tight on time.
“I have ridden his courses here and at Spruce Meadows (in Canada) so am used to them. He makes us turn tighter, which is good for us to be challenged like that.”
McVean says her heart stopped when the last fence rattled and she had to turn and check it had stayed in place.
“I love riding her,” she says of Zimorena. “She’s a really funny redhead!”
The eight-year-olds have now finished the main event of their show, leaving the ‘big’ stuff up to Daffodil, who will start in the $50,000 Silver Fern Stakes and the $200,000 Olympic Cup..
“It’s all up to her now!” McVean said.
The Horse of the Year Show continues through to Sunday when the Olympic Cup will be presented to the showjumper of the year. Australia and New Zealand go head to head on Friday night in the second of a two test Trans Tasman Series.
Showjumping, Lady Rider of the Year: Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Zimorena G 1, Rosie Commons (Auckland) Glenara Chandon 2, Evie Buller (Australia) Yalambi’s Landor 3, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Zasjany D 4, Claire Wilson (Waipukurau) Tipsey 5, Carissa McGregor (Christchurch) Chatterton 6.
Horse 1.4m: Daniel Meech (Taupo/Hawke’s Bay) Argento 1, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Conyers 2, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Springfield 3, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Delilah 4, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) On The Point 5, Claudia Hay (Mosgiel) Euro Sport Heartbreaker 6.
Showing, Gee Whizz Memorial: Dorothy Lennard (Te Aroha) Glen Tullock 1, Allie Harper (Winton) Dream Girl MH 2, Susan Reynolds (Hastings) Mancini 3, Alannah Flannagan (Auckland) Black Jack 4, Anne Hjorth (Cambridge) Acquisition 5, Anne Watts (Papakura) BJK Cashmir 6.
Lead Rein Rider of the Year: Lucia Beckett (Albany) Gunda Gai Nadrill 1, Ryan Teece (Nelson) Merivale Park Serenade Rose 2, Brooke Cadwallader (Auckland) Nanteos Autumn Guardsman 3, Maia Amos (Ashhurst) Sherwoods Royal Emblem 4, Trey Cadwallader (Auckland) Cedar Lakes Angus 5, Kasey McKenna (Papakura) Lakevale Puss n Boots 6.
First Ridden Rider of the Year: Paris Masterson (Papakura) Leeara Park First Edition 1, Lily Webber (Franklin District) Jubilee Final Impression 2, Meg Fleming (Christchurch) Silver Shadow 3, Alyssa Fox (Carterton) Fortification ‘Scuse Me 4, Zoe Booth (Pukekohe) Lakevale Puss n Boots 5, Nikita Lamb (Carterton) Amerberley Falkor 6.
First Ridden Pony of the Year: Paris Masterson (Papakura) Leeara Park First Edition 1, Natasha Forsythe (Paeroa) Greenlee Aristocrat 2, Molly Pike (Cambridge) Uptown Isaac 3, Alyssa Fox (Carterton) Fortification ‘Scuse Me 4, Nicole Weatherley (Matamata) Windvale Classic Time 5, Lily Webber (Franklin) Jubilee Final Impression 6.