Phillip Steiner bagged his second POLi Payments FEI (NZ League) World Cup qualifier win and did himself all sorts of favours as the top international series heads to the final later this month.
Phillip and his 10-year-old mare Cassina Dior were one of three double clears over the Heather McDonald-designed course at the Metalform Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Showjumping in Dannevirke this afternoon.
But in a sport where every millisecond counts, the dad, truck driver, farmer and rider knew just where to cut the corners.
Eleven started the first round, with eight coming back for the second. Clears were more prevalent in the second, with six leaving everything in place, but some were carrying faults from their openers.
Phillip was last to go, but ahead of him, the perennial Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) and Central Park had laid the challenge, with a double clear in 65.55 seconds. Phillip says he knew exactly what he needed to do. He was careful for the first two fences, but his slick turns and efficient lines made the difference, with the Tauranga combo crossing the flags in 65.09 seconds.
“She was great out there,” said Phillip of the Pip McCarroll bred horse. “She really is one in a million.”
They have just clocked over 12 months of doing World Cup classes across the two seasons, but their three months in Australia during New Zealand’s offseason is really starting to pay dividends.
“That Aussie trip has given me those three months where we lost a lot last year due to COVID.” The “kickstart” had set them up to do well right from the get-go of the current season and they started with a bang, winning the World Cup opener in Hawke’s Bay in October.
The course today had been technically, physically and mentally demanding. “I had nothing else to think about other than ride it well,” said Phillip. “I am super stoked.”
Maurice Beatson came in for second, with Julie Davey (Hastings) and LT Holst Freda third. Four faulters Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) aboard LT Holst Andrea and Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) with Windermere Cappuccino were fourth and fifth respectively, with Logan Massie (Dannevirke) on Bravado Ego Z sixth on eight faults.
It had been challenging for the show committee who had done everything they could to ensure New Zealand’s top riders had a good crack at the qualifier. “Hats off to them. They brought the class a day forward, shut ring two so we had a decent warm-up area and worked so hard to make a good World Cup qualifier.”
The call had been bang on the money, with the skies opening not long after the class finished. Today’s class was also a chance for the New Zealand riders to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Phillip was full of praise for the rest of the field. “Our top 8-10 horses are as good as anywhere,” he said. “It is a bright future for New Zealand jumping.”
The series final is in Hawera later this month, with the overall winner having the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the world final in April this year.
POLi Payments FEI (NZ League) World Cup qualifier: Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) Cassina Dior 1, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Central Park 2, Julie Davey (Hastings) LT Holst Freda 3, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) LT Holst Andrea 4, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Windermere Cappuccino 5, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) Bravado Ego Z 6.