Danielle Wheeler and Soldierboy receive the Thomson Trophy from Tom Thomson. Photo credit – Jane Thompson

Danielle Wheeler’s win in the Wairakei Resort CCN1*-L Champ at the New Zealand Three Day Event Championships in Taupo was as special for her as it was for her mum Briar.

“It is the perfect Mother’s Day present for her,” said the 25-year-old from Clevedon. “She puts in almost more work than me and just loves it, so this win is as much for her as me.”

Danielle has had six-year-old Soldierboy for two years. She bought him off Brianna Massie with hunting in mind. “He had jumped full wire and we hunted together for a couple of seasons. I had no intention of eventing him at all but we were just trotting around one day and I thought he moved nicely.” The rest is history – she started him eventing a season ago and are now eyeing 2* next. The combination were second after the dressage and a clear inside time in the cross country saw them retain the position. Today, a careful clear saw them take the win. She was also third on her Aussie-import CP Aurelio.

“I’ve never won a title before anywhere, so to finish first and third is so exciting.”

The cross country had been challenging more for the thick fog than anything. “It was pretty nerve-wracking and I knew I had to go clear and inside time so looked out for the judge’s cars because they were easier to see than the jumps.”

And while Soldierboy doesn’t have the best showjumping technique he’s still “pretty good”. “He’s still relatively green at this level so it was a good effort out there.”

Her nine-year-old grey gelding CP Aurelio, who placed third, has been with Danielle a year. He was bought on a day-trip to Australia. “When dad reads this he is going to get a lot of surprises!”

Danielle’s flat trainer John Thompson had recommended the horse to her and when Springbush was flooded out she made the impulse decision to go and have a look at it. The horse had been placed as a four-year-old in young horse events in Sydney but when his then owner had chosen to pursue a career as a jockey, he’d gone showjumping for a couple of seasons.

When Danielle tried him, he hadn’t seen a cross country jump for six months but didn’t put a foot wrong. “We pretty much bought him on the spot – pending a vet check. It is just so rewarding to do this well – I am really proud of them.”

She paid credit to the team behind her, including her family and great mate Sarah Young who was always there to help out.

Twenty-seven combinations started the championship with 22 finishing all three tests. Overnight leader Cherie Jaques (Otorohanga) and Wizard had a costly two rails in the showjumping to slip to fifth place with Alyssa Harrison (Karaka) and Da Vinci Code moving up from fifth to second thanks to a fault-free round today. Lily Hillary (Auckland) and Fly Me to the Moon also jumped up the leaderboard thanks to their showjumping efforts, moving from eighth to fourth.


Wairakei Resort CCN1*-L Championship: Danielle Wheeler (Clevedon) Soldierboy 33 penalty points 1, Alyssa Harrison (Karaka) Da Vinci Code 35.3 2, Danielle Wheeler (Clevedon) CP Aurelio 35.9 3, Lily Hillary (Auckland) Fly Me to the Moon 39.5 4, Cherie Jaques (Otorohanga) Wizard 39.7 5, Mary Matthews (Ohura) He’s a Gem 40.9 6.