Beatson and Lennard into Hall of Fame

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Horse Of The Year

By Diana Dobson

Top equestrian riders Gaylene Lennard and Maurice Beatson are the latest inductees into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame at a gala dinner in Hastings last night (Thursday). The two received framed certificate from Hastings District Council deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers and Equestrian Sports New Zealand president Jennifer Millar.

Beatson (Dannevirke) was a popular inductee before a sell-out crowd of nearly 300 people. He has won the Olympic Cup as NZ Showjumper of the Year four times, finished second six times, won four Nationwide Trophies as the showjumping rider with the most points at the show and four Norwood Gold Cups, among other awards. He's ridden for New Zealand at the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and World Cup finals. Beatson comes from blue blood in equestrian circles – his great grandfather was a successful horseman who rode in the days when horses were a working resource and occasionally used for recreation. His father George was a top amateur jockey as well as showjumper, and it's a love that was passed on to Beatson, his brother Barry and sister Judy. Beatson shared some entertaining stories about his early riding days, and his more recent adventures offshore, but his parting words from the stage were particularly well received. He thanked all the other competitors and said New Zealand was one of the best places in the world to showjump nationally. “We've got everything going for us – it is truly a great place.”

Showing star Gaylene Lennard (Waikato) was honoured for her unrelenting domination over the years. “Who would believe someone from the 'dolly' ring – or showing – would be good enough to win this,” said a very surprised Lennard. “They say you are lucky if you get one good horse, well, I had two amazing horses and they gave me a lot of success.” She and her stunning hack El Sid – who has since been sold to Australia – won Supreme Hack of the Year six times – five of which were consecutive – and the Trans Tasman Champion Hack at Werribee, Australia – the first combination to do both. With Royal Occasion she won Park Hack of the Year six times.

The Hall of Fame honours board hangs in pride of place at the Hastings District Council – and rightly so, according to Ms Bowers. “This show is incredibly important to Hastings,” she says, and pledged ongoing support for years to come. She extended heart-felt thanks to show director Kevin Hansen and the others who ensured it was the success it has become.

Also honoured on the night was Blake Keane (Gisborne) who received the inaugural David Ross Memorial Trophy for outstanding volunteer service to the show. Ross, a long time volunteer at the show, died suddenly last year, and his mother Louise Ross (Havelock North), who presented the award said the show was “the most important event in David's life”. “He was always so good, so enthusiastic, so proud, diligent and reliable,” she says. He was most proud when wearing his Horse of the Year shirt and cap, and when he had the walkie talkie in his back pocket, “he was a VIP”. And since becoming involved with the show, he would proudly sign any documents that called from his occupation as a Horse of the Year worker. “That was much better than putting IHC trainee which he used to put.” She said the family were very grateful in particular to the mentoring he had received from Kevin Hansen, and that the entire equestrian community had accepted her son in a completely non-judgemental way.

Blake Keane was humble in accepting the trophy. His involvement with horse shows all started when his boss volunteered him to go to the Gisborne Spring Show 39-odd years ago to help out. It was there he was asked to relieve a call steward – and Olympic showjumper – Charlie Matthews. Matthews never came back from his cup of coffee and Keane found something he really enjoyed doing. In the early days of Hawke’s Bay hosting the Horse of the Year Show, it was he and the brothers Hansen who would turn out at 4am to clean the grandstand before it filled with people each day. In accepting the award he paid tribute to the Hansens and their wives and families who were an integral part of the show. Cambridge's Glen Brooks (Cambridge) was the lucky ticket drawn as the winner of a $10,000 sports horse insurance policy from JLT Bloodstock.