Robert Steele rides LT Holst Bernadette to take the win in the Silver Fern Stakes, Land Rover Horse of the Year 2020, HB A&P Showgrounds, Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, Friday, March 13, 2020 Credit: KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

Bob Steele figures he was due a win and this evening he pulled off a big one with victory in the Cavallino Silver Fern Stakes aboard his 11-year-old mare LT Holst Bernadette.

Over the years HOY hasn’t been the kindest show to Bob although he does have his name etched on the Norwood Gold Cup, but today it all came together. Nineteen of New Zealand’s best showjumpers started the class with 10 coming back on four faults and less. Moving through to the second round with clear faults were Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) aboard Windermere Cappuccino, Annabel Francis (Taupo) on Carado GHP, Bob, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) on McMillans Ariados and Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) on Mandalay Cove.

Newly-crowned Young Rider of the Year Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) notched the first clear of the second round aboard Fiber Fresh Veroana followed by Bob and Bernadette who flew around in 57.41 seconds. Rails fell for the next three combinations but then it was the turn of teenage talent Annabel who true to form rode a steely clear in 59.97 seconds.

Bob faced an anxious wait as each combination completed their rounds quietly figuring out his worst possible placing . . . until he realised it was at the top of the podium.

“I was due a win,” he said. “I needed a change in my luck.” A call from his daughter Amanda in England was the push he needed. “She said I needed to do something, so I changed my bit. With a big show you don’t want to change too much but I knew if I didn’t change something, nothing would improve.”

The win came on the back of a run of bad luck at Takapoto. “I’ve never been to a show before where I had four faults in every class like I did at Takapoto Estate Show Jumping and now this. It is just so special to win any class at HOY.”

And more so because Bernadette had been out with injury for most of last season. He’s had the mare since she was five and has plenty of confidence in her ability. “I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “She is very careful and can certainly do it.”

Next up for the combination is the Olympic Cup on Sunday where he will now surely start as one to watch in another very competitive field.

Filling second this evening was Annabel, with Briar third, Simon fourth and Tegan fifth.


Results –

Cavallino Silver Fern Stakes: Robert Steele (Dannevirke) LT Holst Bernadette 1, Annabel Francis (Taupo) Carado GHP 2, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Fiber Fresh Veroana 3, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) McMillans Ariados 4, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Windermere Cappuccino 5, Melody Matheson (Hastings) Cortaflex Graffiti MH 6, Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Versace C 7, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Mandalay Cove 8, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Central Park 9, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) Intellect 10.


By Diana Dobson

13 March 2020