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Millie the Super Star

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Image credit: www.dianablack.comby Diana Dobson

Millbrook is edging his way into the Horse of the Year record books after victory today in the Farmlands Pony of the Year class.

The funny little grey was steered to a stunning win by his pint-sized rider, 12-year-old Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) – the seventh year on the trot he has finished in the top six and his third Pony of the Year title.

There were tears all round the 19-year-old pony, who is owned by Lilly Tootill and her mother Cindy Mitchener. Also on hand was Andrea Crothers, who won the crown in 2006 on Millbrook.

Burnett-Grant only picked up the ride on Millbrook three months ago. She was headed for the retirement paddock but Tootill said she was completely depressed watching her and the truck heading out to shows. A quick call to Burnett-Grant and her mojo was back.

They almost didn't get a start in the Pony of the Year class, if not for a wild card entry to the qualifier.

Twenty-seven started the title class, with 14 carrying eight faults or less coming back for the second round.

Burnett-Grant had two clears with Millbrook and Kabo Silver, with Laura Hutterd (Stratford) guiding the sometimes tricky Spot You Later to a clean round also. Emily Fraser (Takapau) left everything up but carried a single time fault aboard Tiger Tale LS, as did Jay Phillips (Waikato) on Guess Once More. Jessie Goggin (Wellington) and Te Mata Miss had just two time faults.

The pressure cooker second round saw the combinations come back in reverse order. Molly Buist-Brown (Christchurch) rode a beautiful clear round on Miss Mae West, but picked up a single time fault to add to her eight faults form the first round. Melanie Weal (Te Awamutu) would have been cursing her single rail in the first round, but set the record straight with a lovely clear on Hopeful Illusion in the second.

Emily Fraser (Takapau) and Tiger Tale LS went clear, leaving them on a total of one.

The acid was on Burnett-Grant, who did beautifully with Millbrook, leaving her slate clean, but went slightly astray with Kabo to finish on 16 faults.

Burnett-Grant finished fourth last year on Mighty Maximus – her first Pony of the Year start.

“I still can't believe it,” she said. “I have dreamt of winning the Pony of the Year since I was eight.”

She concedes there were more than just a few nerves heading into the second round . . . and lots of excitement.

Millbrook is now heading to another family – she will leave the show bound for nine-year-old Emma Watson's home . . . where there is still plenty of Pony of the Year history. Emma's mother Melissa Rowe won the title in 1993 on Deja Vu, but Emma says she's perhaps a little young to think too much about starting in the class just yet.

“Maybe when I am a bit older.”

Results -

Showjumping, Farmlands Pony of the Year: Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Millbrook (owned by Lilly Tootill and Cindy Mitchener) 1, Emily Fraser (Takapau) Tiger Tale LS 2, Melanie Weal (Te Awamutu) Hopeful Illusion 3, Jay Phillips (Waikato) Guess Once More 4, Emily Fraser (Takapau) Tony the Pony 5, Molly Buist-Brown (Christchurch) Miss Mae West 6.


Image credit: www.dianablack.com

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