The last time Katie McVean won the Norwood Gold Cup at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show, she went on to win the Olympic Cup ... and she's hoping victory yesterday means another cleansweep.
She and the 8-year-old Dunstan Springfield (owned by Sarah Milne, Chele Clarkin and McVean) headed home 37 other combinations with two stunning clear rounds in the Virbac VetSearch Norwood Gold Cup - the first of the 'majors' at the Horse of the Year Show.
Clear rounds inside the time allowed were scant early in the class, with just McVean (Mystery Creek) and Bart - as he is known at home - the only ones of the first 16 to do so.
Then started a run, with Mathew Dickey (Taranaki) on Kiwi Guard, McVean on Dunstan Zimorena G and Tom McDermott (Australia) on the beautiful grey Romantic Dream joining her in the jump-off. Mathew Gilmour (Matangi) and Belize Di Cantero were next to leave everything intact, with Bernard Denton (Feilding) and Horsesports Suzuki, Jamie Kermond (Australia) on Yandoo Laughton's Legacy, Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) on Claire and Sarah Ibister (Australia) on Little Britton. McVean and Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark (owned by June Berrington) rounded out the 10 to jump-off.
McVean was first out and threw a mighty challenge. Bart was slick round the corners and fast over the jumps, and despite a loud rattle at the first of the double, stopped the clock at 43.13 seconds. Dickey took a rail, as did McVean on Dunstan Zimorena G and McDermott.
Gilmour and Belize Di Cantero rattled two fences and they clocked an impressive 44.08, giving them second place. Denton bagged eight faults and Kermond was eliminated after falling at the third.
Olympian McIntosh showed her class on the imported chestnut Claire, coming home in 47.82 for third place. Ibister had two rails, while McVean and Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark took a rail but in the end it didn't matter - the honours were all hers... and she was rapt.
"That was a great win for Bart," said the 26-year-old, "especially as he has been in the shadow of everyone else for a while."
The chestnut - by Indoctro and out of Diversity - has been with the former Olympian and World Champs representative since he was three.
"It's nice to get any win at HOY," she says. "It was a good class out there."
The last time she won the Norwood was in 2010 aboard Corofino II.
With her star mare Dunstan Daffodil out with injury, McVean will be relying on the younger members of her team to step up.
McVean has been riding at HOY since she was nine, so is an old hand at the most prestigious show on the New Zealand equestrian calendar.
More than 2600 combinations are competing at the 2013 Horse of the Year show, which is being held at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in Hastings.
All the international riders were welcomed to the show this afternoon with a powhiri from CLOSENZ Charitable Trust's Kahurangi Group.
Competitors from 10 nations are competing at the show in the NRM Mounted Games World Team Championship, which got underway this afternoon.