Titles Mounting up for Champ

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Natacha Otto has more Horse of the Year titles to her name than most ever will.

With 15 already to her credit, this mother of one from Te Awamutu is one to watch whenever she enters the ring.

This year Otto is defending the Bates Saddles Supreme Park Hack of the Year (over 148cm and not exceeding 158) title she won in 2013 aboard Cuvée. They also won the New Zealand thoroughbred (showing) class last year.

"It has been a fantastic season so far," says Otto, who is hopeful it will continue.

Her track record is impressive, with four Hack of the Year crowns, two Paced and Mannered of the Year titles, seven Park Hack of the Year titles, two Supreme Horse of the Year titles and twice winner of the Gee Whizz Memorial.

Otto, a full time producer of show horses, has had 12-year-old Cuvée for five years. A former racehorse, he was spied by her husband, himself a racehorse trainer, Richard.

Cuvée has shown himself to be good at both showing with his mistress, and training level eventing with her husband.

Their victory in 2013 was their third Supreme Park Hack of the Year title, having won it in 2010, 2011 and 2013, and placing runner-up in 2012.

"He is very consistent . . . a real mummy’s boy but quite special," says Otto. "He tries so hard and never lets you down."

Outside of HOY, this very stunning horse is very well performed, having won New Zealand Park Hack at nationals, the royal in Waikato and New Zealand premiers.

Plenty of build-up work has been going on, and lots of training under the eagle eye of Christine Weal.

To pick a single victory as her favourite is tough, but says it has been special to be awarded a trophy by her father Alistair Mitchell that the family had presented to HOY. The French Etiquette Cup was donated to HOY after the death of her horse French Etiquette, on whom she won four Park Hack of the Year crowns.

"Dad presented me the trophy at my first HOY with Cuvée, so that was special and quite emotional."

Otto says Regal Romar is undoubtedly her best ever horse. Together they won four consecutive Supreme Champion Hack of the Year titles. The horse, who spent time in the United Kingdom with World Champs bronze medal (team) winner Clarke Johnstone, is now back and being competed in eventing by Sarah Young.

Otto is hopeful of taking Cuvée to the grand nationals in Australia at some time in the future, but waiting patiently in the wings is her niece, 13-year-old Lindsay Everton, who is hoping to compete aboard the horse next season.

Meanwhile, Otto is looking forward to another good outing at one of her favourite events.

"I just love HOY," she says. "I love the lead-in to it and just everything about it."


PHOTO CREDIT: Lesley Warwick / Show Shots