By Rebecca Harper

Morrinsville teen Emma Watson rode into the ring at Series Finals in Masterton knowing she had the Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Junior Rider Series sewn up, but still gave it her best crack in the Finals class.

Last out in the jump-off, she needed to beat Canterbury’s Steffi Whittaker and Tribute OL, who were clear and stopped the clock in 35.26. But it wasn’t to be, with one rail coming down, meaning she had to settle for sixth with Kiwi Silverkee.

Steffi took the Finals class but had to settle for overall second place in the series.

“I went in thinking there was no pressure on me, just give it a crack. Once I had a rail I knew there was a four-faulter in sixth already so I knew I had to go fast to make sure I got a ribbon,” Emma explained.

Emma, 14, has only had 12-year-old Kiwi Silverkee, or Gray as he’s know (after Fernhill Stud’s Graeme Hart), for a season. The horse is by Kiwi Emilion. “Sinead Dolman had him before me and did a really good job on him. He’s very quirky – extremely spooky and sensitive.

“I started the season with Oscar Star and Kiwi Silverkee but unfortunately Oscar passed away after a few shows and so Gray really stepped up. He’s been super for me.”

Expectations heading into the series were low and, after losing Oscar, the win was even more special for Emma.

“I went into the series hoping for a few ribbons here and there, I didn’t expect to take the lead. I was really surprised, but once we were in the lead I wanted to keep going. It’s really special to win, especially after Oscar. He had an injury and after a few weeks of trying to save him we had to put him down.”

Next season Emma hopes to step Gray up to do a few Young Rider classes, as well as Junior classes, and qualify for HOY. It is a goal to win the Junior Rider title class at HOY.

Emma will contest the Country TV Pony Grand Prix Series final on Maddox Fun House tomorrow, that series she also already has in the bag.


Dunstan Horsefeeds and Equifibre Junior Rider Series Grand Final: Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Tribute OL 1, Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Double J Breeze On 2, Taylor Nalder (Rangiora) Icebreaker II 3, Olivia Dalton (Auckland) Bling Du Rouet 4, Tyla Hackett (Waiuku) Gin 5, Emma Watson (Morrinsville) Maddox Kiwi Silverkee 6.

Dunstan Horsefeeds and Equifibre Junior Rider Series Grand Final Equitation: Olivia Dalton (Auckland) Bling Du Rouet 1, Taylor Nalder (Rangiora) Icebreaker II 2, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Tribute OL 3, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Tribute OL 4, Matt Irvine (Takapau) Schimmel Warrior 5, Amanda Steele (Dannevirke) Bear Essentials 6.

Dunstan Horsefeeds and Equifibre Junior Rider Series: Emma Watson (Morrinsville) 179 points 1, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) 157 Points 2, Taylor Nalder (Rangiora) 144 points 3, Sinead Dolman (Gisborne) 130 points 4, Samantha Carrington (Takapau) 127 points , Olivia Dalton (Auckland) 122 points 6.