My way for Vanessa

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Horse Of The Year

Taranaki’s Vanessa Way knows how to save the best for last. Her starry young Anamour gelding, Arawn, proved too good for the rest of the field today, decisively taking the overall Level 4 Horse of the Year Championship title. Despite Tuesday’s warm up test not going to plan, Way, the consummate professional, used the experience to tighten up their act. “He’s such a beautiful horse but he is completely terrified of cars – not ideal when every test starts with riding straight towards a judge’s car. He’s really spooky, so I had to get him listening to my aids and with me.” Arawn responded beautifully to the game plan.

Today’s flamboyant display in the Level 4 title class saw the pair finish a clear five percent ahead of their nearest rivals, on70.42%. lt was too much of a gap to close - the next four placegetters sat on variations of 65%, with just a fraction separating them. Auckland’s Kylie Baker and Woodsbee took second place with 65.75% in the title class, with Julie Brougham and Vom Feinsten taking third on 65.66%, then Melissa Parkes and Don’s Party fourth on 65.41% and Christine Weal with Above Zero fifth on 65%. Coming on the heels of Way’s win in the Musical Freestyle class with 72%, there was no doubt that she would finish top of the table overall. At a genuine 17.2hh, and with Way a mere lightweight 5’4, she admits she has to ‘ride smart’ on Arawn. “He’s exceptionally talented but I have battled with his spookiness. He’s a big horse to control, so I have to make sure that he’s always really on my aids. I’m thrilled at how he has coped with the HOY atmosphere given that his first time here two years ago was fairly disastrous – he couldn’t cope with everything going on around him.”

The win tops of a stellar season for Vanessa Way – she has amassed a swag of regional championships as well as two North Island and National titles with KH Allandro (Level 3) and KH Arvan (Grand Prix). After narrowly missing out on the National title with Arawn, leading all the way until the final test, she was determined not to repeat the same mistake at HOY. “He just got tired at National’s so this time I was determined to have him peaking and full of energy,” says Vanessa. Her plan worked – expressive tests, packed with energetic punch had her a clear winner in both title classes.

Palmerston North’s Julie Brougham provided plenty of quality work to finish as Reserve Champion. Riding her classy Vom Feinsten, hand selected by Julie and her husband David at Aachen, this stunning horse serves up some of the most excitingly extravagant work of the class. “I’m absolutely delighted with Steiny,” says Julie. “I love his enthusiasm, he is just such a joy to ride.”

Level 4 Horse of the Year Champion: Vanessa Way, KH Arvan Reserve Champion: Julie Brougham, Vom Feinsten.