Hawke's Bay rider Olivia Apatu and Alasaan Arzu showed hometown advantage does make a difference when they claimed the top pony showjumping honours in a field of 30 in Hastings today.
The first timers upstaged favourites Emma Watson and Maddox Fun House following a jump off after they were locked on four faults in two rounds of the Farmlands Pony of the Year class at Tomoana Showgrounds on day five of the Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show.
Apatu was first out in the jump off, again registering a cautious clear in a time of 43.98s but Watson appeared to put her foot on the pedal trying to eclipse the time as well as post another clear round.
Unfortunately, she clipped two rails for eight faults to settle for the title of runner-up in pursuit of a faster time of 40.13s.
The final class in the premier jumping arena was the Premier Stakes, with fences up to 1.45m.
Seven combos returned from from afield of 24 for the second round.
Annabel Francis, of Canterbury, stood out as she willed her 10-year-old German import mare, La Quinara, to clear the first round.
Daniel Blundell (Athena NZPH) and Drew Carson (Winston V Driene) emulated the feat of the 15-year-old who had withdrawn from tomorrow's Hoy Show marquee Olympic Cup class after a mishap on Wednesday.
Taranaki based Nakeysha Lammers, on Resolution, sat on just one time fault behind the trio.
Francis, who has relocated to Taupo to be close to her trainers, Helen McNaught and Duncan McFarlane, collected a four fault.
However, Lammers produced a clear to pile the pressure on Blundell but Athena NZPH didn't let down the Waitemata rider to yield another clear round in a crisp time of 63.86s on a course Werner Deeg, of Germany, had designed. Athena is an Ocean Beach-bred mare.
Lammers finished second and Francis had to settle for third despite posting a crisper jump-off time of 60.77s.