Hawke's Bay team member, Nicole Lansdown, scooped the top individual prize at the Pony Club Eventing Championships which finished at Equestrian Park yesterday.
The show jumping final phase of the three day competition was nail-biting as less than one percentage point separated Lansdown on her talented gelding, Royalty with 28.7 penalties, from Jessica Woods (Waikato) on Defies Logic in second on 29.8.
Woods and Defies Logic jumped in their characteristic faultless style until one unlucky rail crashed down which gave Lansdown an extra four point lead. When Lansdown on Royalty had a rail drop too, there was a collective holding of breath until she finished with no further faults.
Not only the Knox Thompson Perpetual Challenge Cup for first in dressage, but also the A1 Challenge Cup for the highest-placed A1 competitor, were both hers.
Her mother, Hawke's Bay Area Committee member, Wendy, commented that, "As it's Nicole's last ride for Pony Club, and as captain of the team, it's just a fairy tale to win."
Lansdown who will now have a break from riding to concentrate on her aspirations of being a vet, said, "I've been working towards this all season but it's bittersweet to know that it's the last competition I'll do with Royalty.
In the teams' competition, placings were very close. Woods' solid performance helped Waikato Area into first place with 162.5 penalties, taking the New Zealand Pony Club Perpetual Challenge Trophy for the winning Area Team.
Waikato who last won in 2009, came up from third place after the dressage and cross country phases.
Otago Southland on 166.1 rose to second, which made the long haul up from the Deep South a bit sweeter.
Bay of Plenty on a team total of 168.5 penalties placed third.
Fourth went to Canterbury on 170.3 penalties and Hawke's Bay finished fifth on 173.7.
Tension had built in the large crowd of team members and supporters as, like the DC riders who had jumped earlier in the day, the A1 riders competed in reverse order of placing, not as a team as at previous Champs. Final results were decided on four scores - the best of two 95cm division riders, the best of two DC division riders, the best of the two A1s and the best of the other three scores, regardless of level.
The 95cm riders competed first, giving the first fixed score.
Finishing the event on show jumping with the riders competing in reverse order kept the results an open book until the last rider had show jumped.
Kevin Hansen, who designed the show jumping course, commented, "It's a pleasure to build a course for some of the best young riders in the country. The future of eventing looks very bright."
The 2013 Pony Club Horse Trials Championships have been the largest Champs in years.
Over 300 competitors, supporters and officials sat down to the formal Champs dinner dance at Equestrian Park on Saturday night.
The increased interest has largely resulted from the inclusion of reserves who have ridden as individuals alongside their teams and the addition of non-champs classes.
"I must congratulate Hawke's Bay Area for having the nerve to go outside the square and create a dynamic competition for Pony Club," said Pony Club President, Marj Steiner.
Next year Pony Club Champs will be held in Taranaki.