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Hayley Morris landed in New Zealand with one aim in mind . . . to win the Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year Crown at the Horse of the Year Show.
Today in Hastings she and her eight-year-old European import Miss Money Penny headed off a very classy 27-strong field, making the long trip from Australia all worthwhile.
The 22-year-old originally hails from Christchurch, but moved across the Tasman four year ago to further her showjumping career. She is based with fellow former Cantabrians, Ross and Mel Smith at Kalbar in Queensland.
Nine combinations came back for the second round, including five-time Lady Rider winner Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) who brought two horses through, and former winner Lucy Fell (Longburn).
Morris was second to go, and rode a stunning round to leave everything up in 46.82 seconds.
Also going clear in the second were Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) and Portofino in their first-ever Lady Rider class who stopped the clock at 49.93, and Laurie aboard Dunstan Springfield, who while had the luxury of going last but couldn’t quite beat Morris, coming home in 46.98.
“This is just huge,” said Morris. “It’s just amazing.”
She was unfazed by the other riders in the class, saying she just liked to focus on her own plan and stick to that.
“I wasn’t sure if we were good enough but no matter where we got I was still proud. She tried her guts out.”
It was an emotional victory for Morris, whose horse had two colic surgeries a few years back, followed by two years off and has only been back in competition for 18 months.
“It has been a huge journey,” she said.
She and trainer Ross Smith had two warm-up shows to prepare for HOY.
Morris says she’s not sure whether she will ever return to New Zealand, with her sights set on some time in the United States or Europe to get “some more miles on the clock and hopefully make Olympic teams”.
Ringside to watch her win were her parents Sharon and Glenn Morris and granddad Gordon Morris.
Equestrian stalwart Pete Morris was this evening recognised for his huge contribution to the sport at the 2017 Cape Kidnappers Horse of the Year Hall of Fame Awards Cocktail Party.
The gentleman from Masterton was unable to attend the glitzy event, but his sister-in-law Allison Jamieson received the framed certificate from last year’s inductee Bill Noble on his behalf.
“It is a real thrill for Pete,” said Jamieson.
There were many people in the room who had been mentored by him and discussed showjumping rules around all sorts of dinner tables.
Morris’ highly distinguished equestrian career spans 50-plus years and he is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s most knowledgeable and dedicated showjumping official.
Craig Booth (Masterton) received the David Ross Memorial Award for his outstanding volunteer service to the Horse of the Year Show.
Showjumping, Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year: Hayley Morris (Australia) Miss Money Penny 1, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Springfield 2, Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) Portofino 3, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) LT Holst Andrea 4, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Breeze 5, Lily Tootill (Karaka) Ulysses NZPH 6.
Dunstan Nutrition Seven-Year-Old Horse of the Year (part of the Cortaflex Breeding Series): Melody Matheson (Hastings) Graffiti MH 1, Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) Mea I 2, Leeshelle Small (Auckland) AMS Ajaccio NZPH 3, Daniel Blundell (Ocean Beach) Athena NZPH 4, Jesse Linton (Hastings) Popeye 5, Nakeysha Lammers (Hikurangi) Absolute NZPH 6.
Dressage, Level 4 Horse of the Year: Melissa Galloway (Blenheim) Windermere JObèi W 1, Vanessa Way (Taranaki) NSC Pronto 2.
Level 2 Horse of the Year: Lorraine Ward-Smith (Oamaru) Fernlea Diamond Day 1, Alex Matheson (Cambridge) Furstango 2.
Level 1 Horse of the Year: Gaylene Lennard (Te Aroha) Jax Johnson 1, John Thompson (Hamilton) JHT Replay 2.
For more information, head to www.hoy.kiwi .
What: Horse of the Year Show
Where: Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Hastings
When: March 7-12, 2017