It couldn’t have been closer in the ESNZ Show Hunter Junior Equitation Series but in the end it went to Hazel Jones and Sancho.
The 15-year-old from Wellington just edged out Lauren Mitchell (Kumeu). The two both had 12 wins apiece but Hazel took out a higher placing than Lauren in the final class of the season.
“We all knew coming into the grand final that whoever was higher would take the series,” said Hazel, who is in just her second season of show hunter and never won a series before.
It was her mum Natalie who encouraged her into show hunter to get her used to Sancho. He’s 16.3hh but a real cruiser and always willing to please.
“I like show hunter because Sancho is well suited to it. He has an even stride and doesn’t like ripping around the showjumping. I like riding nicely but do put a fair bit of pressure on myself.”
However, she made a conscious effort to relax before coming into the grand final and it paid off. “I just want to do my best. The plan for the grand final was to go clear, straight and get the strides – Sancho does that if I ride him correctly.”
When she first got the gelding he had done a lot of hunting but not many ‘proper’ shows. “He can get a bit excited but he knows his job now and is pretty good. He knows if he taps a rail he has to pick his feet up. I think because he is a cruisy horse it has been easy for me to go to a bigger horse.
She and Natalie headed to 20 shows through the season and have clocked up nearly 8000 kilometres heading off to shows each weekend including two trips to Gisborne back to back and one to Wairoa. “Mum is definitely my number one supporter. I am pretty stoked to win the series. It was just so close, so it is a huge relief.”
Hazel is trained by Gail Goodwin with some input from Sarah Milne. She has also done a little eventing with Sancho but says while it is fun, she is likely to stay with show hunter and do some of the higher classes now they have the hang of it.
In the grand final Hazel placed second behind Alice Barrow (Rotorua) and Cliebrig Cleopatra with Lauren in third place.
ESNZ Show Hunter Junior Equitation Series: Hazel Jones (Plimmerton) 77 points 1, Lauren Mitchell (Kumeu) 76 points 2, Pippa Collins (Palmerston) 64 points 3, Michaelee Head (Cambridge) 54 points 4, Madison Wiffen (Wellington) 39 points 5, Libby Wilson (Taupo) 31 points 6.
ESNZ Show Hunter Junior Equitation Grand Final: Alice Barrow (Rotorua) Cliebrig Cleopatra 1, Hazel Jones (Plimmerton) Sancho 2, Lauren Mitchell (Kumeu) Craighaven Black Heart 3, Sally Ward (Waipukurau) Paradox 4.
For full series results, head to www.nzequestrian.org.nz
For full class results, head to www.main-events.com
By Diana Dobson
12 April 2021