A Kaimanawa pony from the Bay of Islands took out the coveted Pony of the Year title at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show in Hastings last night.
Tegan Newman and her seven-year-old bay Watch Me Move won a heart-stopping jump-off to take the crown, and tears flowed when the 16-year-old from Kerikeri realised she’d won.
“I didn’t actually think I could do it,” said Newman, who admitted to having healthy doses of Rescue Remedy before each round.
And there were some anxious moments for the thousands in the grandstand when Newman and Watch Me Move turned super tight into a fence early in the jump-off, then lost their way momentarily before getting back on track.
A cool head saw them go clear in 40.76 seconds with just two to go. Before them Becky Harkerss and Brooklee Smallchange set a cracking pace of 35.32 seconds, but took two rails.
Following Newman came pint-sized 11-year-old Briar Burnett-Grant and Mighty Maximus who turned too tight into an early fence, taking a rail, then took the first of the double, but managed to pull off some magic to get through the combination, finishing on eight faults in 37.99.
Last to go was Elle Phillips and Fruialishas who pulled back slightly after dropping a rail at the second fence and finished on four faults in 44.13.
Newman has had the seven-year-old pony for three years. She bought him off her trainers Vicki and Amanda Wilson, who taught the horse to jump. This was their first season at grand prix level, and Newman’s first ever Pony of the Year class.
And for her – like many – to win at this level is a dream come true.
“There were lots of tears from everyone,” she says. “You don’t realise how big the win is until you’re there.”
Newman credited her trainers and her “good luck charm” Amy Kerr, who always helps her warm up for classes.
Thirty-two started the class and 18, with four faults and fewer, came back for the second round. From there, just four were still all clear, and went through to the nail-biter of a jump-off.
Pony of the Year: Tegan Newman (Kerikeri) Watch Me Move 1, Elle Phillips (Waikato) Fruitalishas 2, Becky Harkerss (Leeston) Brooklee Smallchange 3, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Mighty Maximus 4, Nakeysha Lammers (Northland) Airborne Magic and Lily Tootill (Papakura) Millbrook =5.