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Bird Soars To Victory At National Champs

Kim Bird figures she has never been in a more intense competition than this afternoon when she held her nerve to win the Tavendale and Partners New Zealand National Premier Horse Championship at McLean’s Island in Christchurch.

Kim and her 11-year-old grey mare Cera Cassina headed home runner-up Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) aboard Takapoto Alaid de Chez Nous by just .2 of a fault in the class which is also part of the POLi Payments Premier League Series.

Just three combinations came through to the third and final day. “It was all a bit heart-stopping,” said Kim who completed the competition with 9.26 faults with Samantha and her imported mare on 9.46 faults.

“It was crazy – it is the most intense competition I have ever been in. It was a small line-up but any one of us could have won it. I think I have learnt to focus on my game. You just have to go out and leave the rails up and do the best you can. It really boiled down to keeping your head. I trust my horse’s jump – she has all the jump in the world, I just have to make sure I get her there.”

She has had Cera Cassina since she was five and together they have won a World Cup qualifier and the Premier League at Takapoto, but this is Kim’s first national title.
“It is a weird feeling,” said the 24-year-old from Ashburton. “Coming into Nationals she was feeling really good. She is an extremely opinionated but delightful mare who can be a bit fresh.”

That exuberance worked in their favour in the gruelling championship format that sees the horses jumping for three days. “Today she could not be more rideable – she was exactly where I needed her to be.”

Kim also placed second in the Wilcox Perlas Potatoes NZ National Grand Prix Horse Championship with Roxette ECPH, which was won by Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) aboard his 13-year-old grey mare Waitangi Surf.

“I thought we had a good shot as she has been feeling really good and started the year well,” said the 21-year-old. They won the class, which is part of the ESNZ Horse Grand Prix Series, by 3.28 faults ahead of Kim.

But it wasn’t without a little drama. “We nearly took a tumble in the first round today when we took a pole and kind of tripped after it. We certainly had a bit of a life.”

Oliver had nothing but praise for his horse. “She is just incredible. I love a lot about her. She is a real trier and gives everything every time she goes into the ring.”

They’ve done well in the past too, having won the prestigious Norwood Gold Cup and the very competitive Young Rider crown at Takapoto.

He was very thankful to have Olympian Samantha McIntosh in his corner today, who he works with at Takapoto Estate. “She was amazing. I was pretty nervous today because we were in the lead but she got me back on track and ready for the second round. It is great having her here to help me. It would have been tricky to win today if not for her.”

But Oliver didn’t just pick up one national title today, he also won the Matthews Hanoverians Seven-Year-Old crown aboard Takapoto Casanova Xtreme.

It was back to back wins for Emma Gillies (Oamaru) in the Zealandia Horticulture NZ national Open Pony Championship today, albeit on a different horse. Last year she won the title with Benrose Playtime but today it was the turn of Benrose Eclipse whose title also happened to be the pony’s first Grand Prix win.

Emma and Benrose Eclipse finished 3.76 faults ahead of runner-up Keira Page (Mystery Creek) and Redcliffs Colour Me In. “She has a real mind of her own,” said 14-year-old Emma of her pony. “She is not very big over these jumps but she has a big heart and that certainly helps.”

She had hoped to have both ponies do well at the Nationals but unfortunately had to withdraw Benrose Playtime at the end of the first round. “I came into the last day in third place and mum wanted me to just go out, ride well and have fun. I was a bit nervous after the first round (today) when I was in the lead and had to go clear. I just focussed on leaving everything up,” said Emma. “It is just incredible. We had a few hairy moments and I thought some of the jumps were coming down but they just stayed up. Lucky times.”

It was a good Nationals for the Gillies family. Older sister Samantha also won the Wade Equine Coaches NZ National 1.2m Horse Championship aboard Socrates De La Ve Z. The sisters are trained by mum Phillipa with help from Sophie Scott.
National titles were awarded across the grades at one of the country’s top equestrian events.

Results –
Tavendale and Partners NZ National Premier Horse Championship (part of the POLi Payments Premier League Series): Kimberley Bird (Ashburton) Cera Cassina 1, Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) Takapoto Alaid de Chez Nous 2.

Wilcox Perlas Potatoes NZ National Grand Prix Horse Championship (part of the ESNZ Horse Grand Prix Series): Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) Waitangi Surf 1, Kimberley Bird (Ashburton) Roxette ECPH 2, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Lakota 3, Molly Buist-Brown (West Melton) Vali 4, Luci Askin (Ashburton) Flying Dutchman DHU 5, Jeremy Whale (Cambridge) Idol D 6.

Graham McClintock June Cresswell NZ National 1.3m Horse Championship: Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Double J Breeze On 1, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) Centino 2, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Whimsical WDS 3, Jess Land (Christchurch) Emilio MSH 4, Francesca Corich (Paraparaumu) LDS Cardo 5, Becky Harkerss (Kaikoura) Kettle GNZ 6.

Zealandia Horticulture NZ National Open Pony Championship (part of the Country TV Pony Grand Prix Series): Emma Gillies (Oamaru) Benrose Eclipse 1, Keira Page ( Mystery Creek) Redcliffs Colour Me In 2, Molly Moffatt (Christchurch) Te Ngaio Raggamuffin 3, Johanna Wylaars (North Canterbury) Wembleybrook Tiffany 4, Penny Borthwick (Masterton) Foxdens Merlot 5, Jessica Hore (Southland) Tallyho Scoundrel 6.

Wade Equine Coaches NZ National 1.2m Horse Championship: Samantha Gillies (Oamaru) Socrates De La Ve Z.

Rangiora Vet Centre NZ National 1m Pony Championship: Cassidy Causer (Canterbury) FH Pipsqueak.

Majestic Horse Floats NZ National 1.1m Horse Championship: Harriet Gardner (South Canterbury) PL Queen of Hearts.

Hilton Press NZ National 1.1m Pony Championship: Johanna Wylaars (North Canterbury) Larabelle.

Dunstan Horsefeeds Amateur Rider Series (sponsored by Kathryn Picton-Warlow Harcourts Gold): Kelly Chapman (Albany) Eye See Ruby.

Harrison Lane Pro-Am Rider Series (sponsored by NRM): Kirsty Sharapoff (Christchurch) Shoot the Breeze 1, Courtney Townsend (Darfield) Corofina ECPH 2, Victoria Brown (Southland) RH Renamour 3, Helen Ensor (Blenheim) Zactac Carnival 4, Angela Frewer (Leithfield) Donala Dundee 5, Georgia McClintock (North Canterbury) WHF Eclipse 6.

FMG Young Rider Series (sponsored by The Rider Shop): Sophie Scott (Wellington) Lakota 1, Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Double J Breeze On 2, Grace Manera (West Melton) Cazette HSH 3, Molly Buist-Brown (West Melton) Vali 4, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Whimsical WDS 5, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) Centino 6.

Mainland Coachwork Junior Rider Series (sponsored by Team Victoria Ltd): Pippa Collins (Otago) First Lady 1, Olivia Adams (Christchurch) Castelada II 2, Jessica Hore (Southland) Beaumont Birdie 3, Meg Bisset (Marlborough) Bewitched NZPH 4, Kimberley Carrington (Takapau) Double J Barmaid 5, Molly Moffatt (Christchurch) Glenmark 6. Equitation: Olivia Adams (Christchurch).

Matthews Hanoverians Seven-Year-Old Series: Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) Takapoto Casanova Xtreme 1, Rose Alfeld (Leeston) Eye Catcher NZPH 2, Sally Spicer (Christchurch) Corrine HSH 3, Rosa Buist-Brown (West Melton) Bellick ST 4, Victoria Brown (Southland) RH Renamour 5.

UltraMox Six-Year-Old Series (sponsored by Cheryl Bristow Bodywork): Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Double J Hurricane 1, Sophie Scott (Wellington) Benrose Casino ECPH 2, Simone Kann (Karaka) Lassandra GNZ 3, Rose Alfeld (Leeston) Footloose NZPH 4, Katie Meredith (North Canterbury) Vulcan GNZ 5, Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) Glenbrooke Rosarno 6.

East Coast Performance Horses Five-Year-Old Series: Makenzie Causer (Christchurch) Lord Axel GNZ 1, Amy McMullan (Timaru) Pure Cascade 2, Nic Grant (Canterbury) Sinaloa GNZ 3, Cherie Counane (Southland) MF Lexicon 4, Todd Magner (Christchurch) Awatuna Rocketman 5, Rose Alfeld (Leeston) Celebration ECPH 6.

Whittaker Equine Stables Rising Stars Championship: Georgia Grant (Rangiora).

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