Lucy Akers NRM Horse of the Year Show is over . . . thanks to a deal the 2014 Lady Rider of the Year made with her horse Cortaflex Tinapai.
Akers, a 29-year-old vet nurse from Palmerston North, bagged her second Bayer NZ Lady Rider of the Year title today (Thursday) at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds, heading home 49 other combinations.
“That's my show,” said an ecstatic Akers. “It's a bloody good one to win. I made a deal with him if he won today, he wouldn't have to jump (in the JB Olympic Cup) on Sunday.”
This year the lady rider class was run slightly differently, with a first round qualifier culling the field to 30 combinations who had eight faults or less. Akers said it was tough going for the horses, with two full rounds and a jump-off in the heat of the day. But that worked in the favour of her former racehorse.
“Tina (Cortaflex Tinapai) has been feeling really good in the last few weeks but I wasn't expecting another win in this class because there are so many great riders out there.”
After two rounds, just four combinations were still on zero faults – Akers, former Olympian and World Champs rider Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) on Estina (owned by Lakeridge Equestrian), Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) on Dual Diamond and Nicole White (Southland) Cricklewood Ace.
McIntosh was first out and while her sometimes tricky bay mare Estina wanted to stop going into the last, she wasn't having a bar of it and came home clear in 51.84 seconds.
Fitzsimon was next and went for the steady clear, paying for it with a single time fault in 57.69. White gave it a really good go and looked to be in the money until the last fence, giving her four faults in 47.86.
Last out was Akers who came home clear in 50.01. No round with Tina is complete without a few sideways runs at jumps and the odd leap, but Akers says that's fine by her.
“When I ask him to wait, he gets a little wiggle action going because he thinks if he goes sideways he can go faster!”
Having won the Lady Rider title in 2011, Akers says it only made her hungrier for another victory.
“You know just how special it is to win,” she says, “but it is one of the toughest classes of the show to win. Equestrian is a sport where you are equal, riding against men and women, but this is one just for the ladies . . . besides, it wouldn't have made a difference if there were men in the class!”
Tina has had a quite season, having sustained a small injury over Christmas and missing out on many lead-in grand prix.
“It's nice to be in with a chance of winning, but you do need luck on the day. Everything has to go to plan and you just hope that everyone else is not quite as good.”
Akers has taken 15-year-old Tina around the world, and says a decision by her parents to ship the horse home for her from the United States was probably the best one they had ever made.
“We are a very tight partnership, and while I couldn't sell him in the states, I would never sell him now. He just keeps getting better and better.”
Meanwhile in the Country TV Tri Nations Australia continued its domination, picking up one bonus point for a round that included three clears. New Zealand remain in second, also picking up a bonus point, with Chinese third.
The final round is on Saturday evening.
Bayer NZ Lady Rider of the Year: Lucy Akers (Palmerston North) Cortaflex Tinapai 1, Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) Estina (owned by Lakeridge Equestrian) 2, Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) Dual Diamond 3, Nicole White (Southland) Cricklewood Ace 4, Melody Matheson (Hastings) Cheltenham 5, Sally Steiner (Tauranga) Renaissance NZPH 6.
Country TV Tri Nations (points after day two): Australia 11 points, New Zealand 7 points, China 2 points.
Dressage, Level 4 (title): Kaye Asham (Awanui) Dante MH 1, Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) Furst Fellini 3, Louisa Ayres (Waikanae) Playmate 3, Nicky Pope (Auckland) Saskatoon 4, Lisa Blackbourne (Kumeu) Lingh II 5, Jacqui Thompson (Upper Hutt) Georgio 6.
Level 4 Musical Freestyle (title): Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) Furst Fellini 1, Kaye Asham (Awanui) Dante MH 2, Wendi Williamson (Kumeu) Cortaflex Don Amour MH 3, Louisa Ayres (Waikanae) Playmate 4, Nicky Pope (Auckland) Saskatoon 5, Sharlene Royal (Kumeu) New World Frankie J 6.
Level 4 Horse of the Year (title): Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) Furst Fellini 1, Kaye Asham (Awanui) Dante MH 2, Louisa Ayres (Waikanaei) Playmate 3, Wendi Williamson (Kumeu) Cortaflex Don Amour MH 4, Nicky Pope (Auckland) Saskatoon 5, Jacqui Thompson (Upper Hutt) Georgio 6.
Test 5D (title): Penny Castle (Palmerston North) BL About Time 1, Nikita Osborne (Northland) Alcatraz 2, Jacqui Winspear (Auckland) JW Darjeeling 3, Penny Castle (Palmerston North) Freespirit 4, Angela Lloyd (Auckland) Ruanuka R 5, Nicola Kitcheman (Hamilton) Fraggle Rock RE 6.
Level 5 Musical Freestyle (title): Penny Castle (Palmerston North) BL About Time 1, Otillie Upshall (Rotorua) Regal Xavier 2, Frankie Webb (Levin) Northern Ivanthus 4, Victoria Wall (Albany) Astek Gymnast 4, Kay Ahsam (Awanui) Diva's Glory 5, Anna McIntyre (Tauranga) Cavort 6.
Level 5 Horse of the Year (title): Penny Castle (Palmerston North) BL About Time 1, Otillie Upshall (Rotorua) Regal Xavier 2, Kay Ahsam (Awanui) Diva's Glory 3, Frankie Webb (Levin) Northern Ivanthus and Victoria Wall (Albany) Astek Gymnast =4, Nicola Kitcheman (Hamilton) Fraggle Rock RE 5, Jacqui Winspear (Auckland) JW Darjeeling 6