By Sally Reid
Photography: Cornege Photography; Kylie Unsworth
With only two events left in the prestigious ESNZ Premier League series, one of which is the NZ Horse of the Year show, tension is building. In the lead at present is Veroana (Indoctro - Strawberry x Roman Off), the horse who won this series last year and who also won 2018’s Olympic Cup (Horse of the Year). Could he pull off a second double victory?
The big roan gelding was bred by Linda Taylor and is owned and ridden by 18-year-old Briar Burnett-Grant. Veroana is just 10 year old, probably still coming to terms with his own power and speed, and at times he can be a hot horse to ride. However, he is in the very best of hands with young Burnett-Grant, who, despite her age, is one of the country’s top jumping riders. The pair won their first and only World Cup start last year, and finished third overall in this year’s World Cup series.
Veroana’s sire, the fabulous Indoctro (Capitol I x Caletto II x Calypso I) is known to every BN reader, and obviously these bloodlines have been influential – the gelding has certainly inherited Indoctro’s careful, effortless jumping style. But how about the mare’s contribution?
Well, there’s no doubt that Veroana’s distaff side has played a major part in shaping his talent. His dam, Strawberry, who also competed as Bella Rona, jumped to Grand Prix level. Like her son, she was a hot but exciting horse to ride. More about her below.
Strawberry’s sire, Roman Off – or Romanoff, Ramon Off or Romanov, depending on which archive you consult – is by a horse known as Roan 8 or Romeo – again, depending on the archive. Whatever their names, both stallions were used for siring Stationbreds, which are famous for their toughness and jumping ability.
Veroana was purchased as a foal by riders and breeders Ike and Kylie Unsworth, sold to Mount View Sport Horses where they were working at the time, then bought back as a two-year-old. He began his career in 2014 with Ike Unsworth, winning four of his five-year-old classes. He was sold to Briar Burnett-Grant a year later, and with her won the 2016 Horse of Year, at the tender age of seven. “We knew he was a very talented jumper and had the potential to jump the big classes,” says Kylie Unsworth. That is certainly true, as his brilliant win over an Australian horse in last year’s Olympic Cup confirmed. There is no doubt that you will be reading more about Veroana in the future.
Meanwhile, lying second in the Premier League on 74 points is the exceptional eight-year-old NZ Warmblood gelding Windermere Cappuccino (Corofino II - Vespa x Voltaire II) with Tegan Fitzsimon. It is not known at present whether this pair will contest the remaining two competitions in the series, as Cappuccino is currently being assessed for sale to a USA buyer.
The Graf Top daughter, Graffiti MH (Graf Top - Elodie x Earl) bred by Judith Matthews of Matthews Hanoverians, is in third place with her owner/rider Melody Matheson, on 66 points. Graffiti is a super-impressive jumper, and was the winner of 2018’s eight-year-old series. This horse also has dressage and eventing wins to her name.
Eros K (Guidam - Duchess de la Bryère x Cavalier), the top showjumping stallion in the 2017-18 NZ rankings, is currently fourth in in the Premier League with 62 points. He is a 13-year-old Irish Warmblood, bred by Knightfield Stud in Ireland, and is ridden by Steffi Whittaker...