Sally Clark rides Victorias Secret in the Pro Am Final, Horse of the Year 2018, Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds, Hastings, Thursday, March 15, 2018. Credit: KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

By Diana Dobson

The GJ Gardner Pro-Amateur Rider of the Year as part of the Dunstan Horsefeeds and Equifibre Pro-Amateur Series was well done and dusted when Sally Clark was handed the title.

A protest over horse ownership led to Clark and Victoria’s Secret – who finished second on the day – being awarded the crown.

For the eventing silver medallist from the Atlanta Olympic Games, it was a special moment – it was also their first-ever HOY title.

“HOY hasn’t been very kind to me over the years,” says the Dannevirke horsewoman. “For no particular reason, I just haven’t had good results there.”

Last year she and her striking home-bred black mare were seventh in the same class after picking up a time fault.

“I am very happy – it is incredibly exciting for me to have finally won a title at HOY.”

She and showjumping partner Maurice Beatson bred 11-year-old Victoria’s Secret and Clark has done the lion’s share of the work on the horse bar a few months when she broke her foot and ankle coming off another horse during the second half of the mare’s six-year-old season and Beatson had to take the reins.

Victoria’s Secret is not a big horse – coming in at just under 16hh. Her mother Dilly Dally, who is by Distelfink, showjumped to 1.3m. Her sire was a thoroughbred Hey Baba Riba, who is by Sir Tristram

“She is a fabulous horse,” says Clark. “She is spirited and just loves to jump. I did have to learn the ride though – it is a matter of channelling her enthusiasm and sharpness into what she loves and is good at.”

Clark has been competing at HOY for some years, and in the 1980s used to showjump her eventers in some of the big classes, including the Lady Rider of the Year and even competed in a little show hunter. Her fifth placing in the Lady Rider class in 2008 aboard Zibbibo remains a very special result for her.