Top dressage rider Bill Noble was last night inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame.
The Waikato rider, coach and mentor has enjoyed a long and highly distinguished career in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He has won five Horse of the Year titles on three different horses that he has brought through the grades. He is the only competitor to win three consecutive Dressage Horse of the Year crowns.
Mr Noble has worked with many riders over the years including Sir Mark Todd and was instrumental in assisting New Zealand to gold medal glory at the Seoul Olympics.
Mr Noble was humbled to be called to the stage where he was presented with his certificate by last year's inductee, Katie Laurie.
"Dressage in this country is improving . . . it is definitely on the way up," he said. "While we are nowhere near the world level yet, I see no reason why we can't get there. New Zealand has some fantastic horses, we just need to learn to ride them a little better."
He also paid tribute to Linda Moughan, owner of Airthrey Highlander, the stallion he most recently won Dressage Horse of the Year aboard, and his wife Felicity.
Between Felicity and daughter Anya, who was now competing on Airthrey Highlander, he was kept well grounded.
Central Hawke's Bay's Kevin Thompson was honoured with the David Ross Memorial Award for his outstanding volunteer service to HOY.
His lifelong passion with equestrian started with Pony Club as a child, and covered many positions, including district commissioner, brand head instructor and more recently as a technical delegate and FEI judge.
He has been involved with HOY for many years, and when not on official duties, is likely to be found on the sideline watching his granddaughter competing at the show.
Mr Thompson extended thanks to his father for instilling a love of horses, and his wife for "putting up" with him for all the years he has chased horses.
Journalist, broadcaster and media personality Bill Ralston was MC for the evening, keeping everyone on their toes.
New Zealand Racing Board chief executive John Allen entertained the guests with his take on how to grow the wider equestrian industry.
"We have fantastic horse men and women, we breed fantastic horses who win consistently in Australia, Singapore and on the international stage," said Mr Allen.
But more needed to be part of it and support the wider industry.
"The heart of it is that we need more New Zealanders riding horses and involved in equine sports . . . we have passion, commitment, and recognition that grassroots New Zealand can make a real difference."