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New Zealand ‘pop-ups’ save the competition season

Mr Hokey Pokey ridden by Donna Edwards-Smith

By Sally Reid
Photography: Pegasus Communications, Cornege Photography

It’s been a catalogue of misery for New Zealand breeders and riders as far as top-level competition is concerned: HOY was cancelled for the second year running, as was the four-star Puhinui three-day event. The NZ Dressage Championships also fell victim, though they have now been rescheduled for later in the year.

However, regional organizers managed to scramble some ‘pop-up’ events together and hold other scheduled shows with great success, despite the strict Covid ‘bubble’ rules.

‘Hunua of the Year’ – a pop-up horse trial

At Hunua near Auckland, the Hunua of the Year CCI4*-S was won by a very popular horse: Mr Hokey Pokey (Gotta Lotta Gold AQHA - Faith xx x Sakti xx). This palomino gelding is a 16hh/162cms Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, bred by Sonya McNamara of Gotta Lotta Gold Stud near the southern tip of the South Island. He was originally named Gotta Lotta Courage – a very appropriate name – and is now owned by Donna and Elise Edwards-Smith, and ridden by Donna. ‘Yogi’, as he is widely known, is making a comeback after the removal of a bone cyst and nearly three years away from top-level competition. He not only won, but led the way through all three phases, so it was an emotional moment for the many people who have helped this super little horse return to top form.
Second went to Mi Focus (Ramazotti [KWPN] - Chrialka Redwood x Chrialka Zibu), a 14-year-old mare having her debut run at four-star level. Her sire, the late Ramazotti (Ramiro Z - Bilithya keur pref prest x Joost), was imported from the Netherlands by Jody Hartstone and brought excellent jumping bloodlines to this country. Mi Focus also has Clydesdale blood through her damsire, a talented Clydie-Thoroughbred cross. She was bred by Sylvia Vriend, a vet and successful Clydesdale breeder, and is owned and ridden by Renee Faulkner, who purchased her in utero with her dam.
It seems impossible to report a New Zealand competition of any sort without Anamour’s name among the pedigrees and, sure enough, he is the sire of the third-placed four-star horse at Hunua, the lovely 12-year-old gelding Antara (Anamour - Tandarra Mirabelle xx x Exemplar xx). He was bred by Janine Ball, and is ridden by his owner, Emily Cammock. Antara’s dam, the 1994-born Tandarra Mirabelle won the Taupo Young Event Horse Championship as a five-year-old, ridden by Janine Ball. “She produced six foals for me after her owner and breeder, Kathy Scott, gave her to me,” says Ball, who taught Antara to jump as a young horse and is very proud of his achievements to date. These include around several eventing wins, though this was his first time at four-star.
Mirabelle’s sire, Exemplar, is also the sire of Ease on Fire, a mare who competed at the former four-star in the UK with Joe Meyer, and Estrada, also UK based.

Matamata CCI4*

A little earlier, and a little further south at Matamata, another event drew a big number of entries and also offered a CCI4*-S. This was won by the super Thoroughbred Artist (Guillotine xx - Maxamore xx x Volksraad xx), bred by Windsor Park Stud, owned by Monica Spencer (née Oakley) and Mary Petersen, and ridden by Spencer. Artist also won the Ready Teddy Award for the Best-Performed Thoroughbred at the event, which Blyth Tait was on hand to watch. Tait and Ready Teddy competed in three Olympic Games and were triple gold medallists: gold in Atlanta 1996, as well team and individual gold at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber