Samantha Morrison and the bucky Biarritz were in a class of their own in the Bayleys Real Estate FEI World Cup Qualifier at the APL Showjumping Waikato Festival of Jumping at Mystery Creek on Sunday.
The Tauranga combination was the only two of 11 starters to finish the two-round competition in single digits, and bagged the only clear to boot.
In the opening round, Morrison had five faults, Melody Matheson (Hastings) aboard Graffiti MH, Rose Alfeld (Leeston) and My Super Nova and Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) on Mandalay Cove all had 12 faults apiece. Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) and AP Ninja had 17, and Tess Clark (Gisborne) aboard Sinatra II and Daniel Blundell (Auckland) on Lavello had 20 each. Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) retired both Breeze and Esteban MVNZ, and Samantha Peters (Whangarei) aboard Zabambi and William Willis (Karaka) on Dollar Roll MS were eliminated.
Just those with 12 faults or less came back for the second where Matheson added 16 to finish on 28, Beatson added eight to finish on 20, Alfeld dropped just one to end up on 16 and fittingly, Morrison was all clear to remain on five.
Morrison, who was towards the end of the field in the opening round, said she could hear from the warm-up others were having problems with the course.
"I just thought I had to go ride it well," the 22-year-old said.
"We just had to keep the rhythm and keep him going - Biarritz was just outstanding."
The 12-year-old Selle Francais, who is by Lindberg des Hayettes, was certainly very excited coming into the tight indoor arena.
"He is very alert and aware of what is going on around him so does get a little overexcited," said Morrison. "He is just super though. He tried his heart out. I am so happy."
She felt when she walked the track, most competitors would have been fine, however once in the ring, realised it took a lot of jumping.
"The lines were forward, so you had to land and keep going. When I walked the track with Helen (McNaught-McFarlane) and Duncan (McFarlane), they just said to not panic. I owe a lot to them - they have been phenomenal this season with their support and teaching."
Next on Morrison's list is Equitana Auckland, followed by the remainder of the World Cup series and then Horse of the Year.
"I would like to win the series this year - I was third last season - and of course the Olympic Cup is a big goal."
Sunday's win moved Morrison up to second on the World Cup leaderboard, with Afleld holding on to her lead by just two points.
The next qualifier is in Hawera later this month.