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A couple of weeks ago William Willis didn’t even think he would get his home-bred horse Dollar Roll MS to the Horse of the Year Show . . . today they won the historic Norwood Gold Cup.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said the 31-year-old from Karaka. “The horse picked up a virus after the World Cup final in January and this is his first show back.”
The Norwood class attracted 32 entries, with just three coming back for the jump-off over the Werner Deeg (GER) designed course. The first round saw plenty of faults, with riders challenged by the questions posed.
The jump-off saw Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) out first aboard the imported Caretino Jewel. The took a rail three from home, finishing on four faults in 44.21 seconds.
Next out was Willis who looked to be chasing the steady clear until he dropped the second fence, and notched his speed up a few cogs to come home with four faults in 42.24 seconds.
Last out was Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) and Dunstan On The Point Sandy who were also going for a measured clear round, but a rail put paid to that and they had to settle for third.
At just 14 years old, Annabel Francis (Darfield), aboard Glenara Vintage Rose, was the baby of the field, and finished the first round with eight faults to place 11th.
But the day belonged to Willis and the eight-year-old Dollar Roll MS.
“It is a very special win,” he said, “and especially for my mother (Mary-Rose Sharp) who bred the horse . . . this means the world to her. The amount of time and effort she has spent on me, my brothers and the breeding programme is incredible.”
And Dollar Roll MS also came in for plenty of praise.
“He just tried his heart out and I am just stoked.”
While Willis has been competing at HOY for many years, this was his first-ever title.
“You’ve got to have a bit of luck on your side to win here.”
Willis loved Deeg’s course, saying he was particularly fond of the flowing German style of design.
He was planning to start the horse in the Silver Fern Stakesnight, but will now save the horse for the Olympic Cup .\
The Willis family have been breeding at Matawhio Sport Horses for 12 years and are now in their third generation.
Earlier in the show, Mathew Irvine (Takapau) and La Perla won the AHD Ltd Six-Year-Old of the Year (part of the Mitavite Breeding Series) crown in a big class that saw 18 of the 46 starters come back for the jump-off.
Emma Gaze (Ohaupo) guided her home-bred horse Fire Bug to victory in the GJ Gardner Homes Pro Amateur Rider of the Year (Part of the Let’s Bale Pro Amateur Series).
Six of the 28 starters came back for the jump-off where Gaze’s 46.93 second round proved untouchable.
It was her first-ever HOY title, and one very dear to her heart too. Ironically the radiographer qualified second on her other horse Woodland Bug and had taken a rail with Fire Bug, but opted to start the 10-year-old.
It was just a few years ago that Fire Bug was so badly injured in a paddock injury that some thought she should have been put down, but Gaze and her mother Wendy carefully nursed the mare back to health. Today they were well rewarded for their patience.
Virbac Equine Norwood Gold Cup: William Willis (Karaka) Dollar Roll MS 1, Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) Caretino Jewel 2, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) Dunstan On The Point Sandy 3, Rose Alfeld (Leeston) My Super Nova 4, Emily Hayward-Morgan (Te Awamutu) AP Ninja 5, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) Dunstan On The Point Eve 6.
AHD Ltd Six-Year-Old of the Year (part of the Mitavite Breeding Series): Mathew Irvine (Takapau) La Perla 1, Kirsten Worker (Auckland) Melanie’s Choice 2, Duncan McFarlane (Taupo) Be Mine NZPH 3, Tegan Fitzsimon (Canterbury) Windermere Cappuccino 4, Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) LC Showtym Cassinii 5, Julie Davey (Hastings) JD Ruby 6.
GJ Gardner Homes Pro Amateur Rider of the Year (part of the Let’s Bale Pro Amateur Series): Emma Gaze (Ohaupo) Fire Bug 1, Bob Bleakley (Cambridge) Airthrey Resolution 2, Rosie Commons (Auckland) Athena GNZ 3, Tim Pearce (Marton) Oracle WT 4, Louise Bowie (Pahiatua) Kiwi Hammer 5, Kelly Smith (Foxton) Corlinka 6.
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
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