McVean wins silver fern stakes

Article Index
Horse Of The Year

The Aussies took the trans Tasman test but Kiwi star Katie McVean won the class... thanks to more than just a little help from the crowd at the 2011 NZ Horse of the Year Show in Hastings this evening (Friday).

A capacity crowd willed the 24-year-old Beijing Olympian and her horse Dunstan Daffodil carefully over each jump on their way to victory in the $50,000 Silver Fern Stakes. The were the last of the field to go in the second richest class of the six-day show that culminates with the crowning of the New Zealand Showjumper of the Year on Sunday.

McVean jetted in from Europe on the opening day of the show to defend her Showjumper of the Year title. It is the second time she has won the Silver Fern Stakes – the last time nine years ago aboard Dunstan Dolly. Twenty-three started the class, which was whittled down to 16 for the second round. With McVean the only double clear, there was no jump-off. Five combinations shared second equal on four faults apiece including last year's stakes winner Billy Raymont (Australia/Ocean Beach) on both his horses Nicalette NZPH and Stardom.

“Daffodil tried her heart out there tonight,” said a very happy McVean. “She has been such a super star this season.” Daffodil was a little feisty today, and has only been lunged while McVean has been in Europe for the past three weeks. The NZ team – McVean, Lucy Akers (Mystery Creek/Palmerston North) on Tinapai, Chris Harris (Christchurch) on Zilco Te Peka and Philip Steiner (Tauranga) on Annandale Online NZPH were leading by one at the end of the first round of the trans Tasman but a fault-ridden second round by three of the four team members saw them finish six faults behind their neighbours.

Australian chef d'equipe Graeme Watts was chuffed with the win saying it was a good stepping stone for a few of the younger members of the team who had the London Olympics in their sights. In the dressage phase of the Alltech 3* eventing World Equestrian Games team bronze medallists Clarke Johnstone (Cambridge) and Orient Express have the early lead after scoring 40.2 penalties for a fluent and forward performance. Sitting just behind him is Lizzie Brown (Hamilton) with Henton Attorney General, with Johnstone in third spot aboard KS Secrets on 46 and sixth with Incognito on 51. Cantabrian Alice Montgomery, wearing a red arm band on her black jacket, lies fourth with the seasoned Gordon on 47.4.

The 18 starters in this top class will provide an exciting spectacle as they tackle John Nicholson’s challenging cross-country course at the Hawke's Bay Equestrian Park tomorrow. The top echelon of the dressage competitors finally made an appearance at the show. It was a closely stacked top three in the FEI Intermediate I, with less than one percent in it.

Kumeu’s Wendi Williamson took the win on 64.07%, with Te Awamutu’s Christine Weal and her new mount Spielzeit just behind on 63.81%, a course error proving costly. Andrea Bank (Auckland) with Limonit finished third on 63.55% and Jody Hartstone (Raglan) took fourth on her 20-year-old stallion Donnerwind 5, downgraded this season from Grand Prix to Prix St Georges, finishing on 62.96%. The show continues on Saturday and finishes on Sunday.

Results - Silver Fern Stakes: Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Daffodil 1, George Sanna (Australia) CP Aprilla, Brook Dobbin (Australia) Advisor, Billy Raymont (Australia/Ocean Beach) Nicalette NZPH, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Seremonie VDL, Billy Raymont (Australia/Ocean Beach) Stardom =2, Robert Steele (Hawera) Gospel 7, Julia Hargreaves (Australia) Vedor 8, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) Annandale Online NZPH 9, Danielle Butcher (Australia) Twins Big Higgs 10. Alltech CIC3* (after the dressage): Clarke Johnstone (Cambridge) Orient Express, 40.2, 1; Lizzie Brown (Hamilton) Henton Attorney General, 43 2; Clarke Johnstone (Cambridge) KS Secrets, 46, 3; Alice Montgomery (Christchurch) Gordon, 47.4, 4; Lizzie Brown (Hamilton) Push Play, 48, 5; Clarke Johnstone (Cambridge) Incognito, 51, 6.