Ask Briar Burnett-Grant and she'll tell you the moral of any winning story is always listen to your family, especially your mum.

"Well, mum kind of made me do it," Burnett-Grant said with laugh, not long after creating history at the Land Rover-sponsored Horse of the Year Show in Hastings.

She became the youngest showjumper to lift the Olympic Cup with the help of her mount, Fiber Fresh Veroana, yesterday since Peter Holden rode Starlight to victory at another New Zealand location in the inaugural jump in 1953.

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The 17-year-old from Taupo got up yesterday morning doubting whether she was ready to enter the premier showjumping arena of the show at Tomoana Showgrounds but that, of course, didn't extend to her 9-year-old champion gelding.

"Leading up to the cup, it was kind of a mediocre show so I was left contemplating whether I should start or not."

But mother Karen Burnett, father Dave Grant and siblings Hannah, Kristy, Kylie and Matt did exactly what all caring families do - gathered around to give her loads of encouragement to ward off those doubting demons.

"No, in fact all of them said, 'Go on, you can do it', and stuff like that," she said with a beaming smile, after dismounting from her horse, following a rapturous celebratory ride.

Burnett-Grant broke down in tears during a TV interview at the entrance to the arena.

Just as Ulramox Lady Rider of the Year Lisa Cubitt had last Thursday and HOY Show Dressage Rider of the Year John Thompson had done on Saturday, Burnett-Grant's emotions had got the better of her although she recovered to front up to the media scrum with aplomb.

"I was feeling the pressure but everything paid off so I'm really happy," she said, reflecting on the first round when she thought she had clipped a couple of rails but, mercifully, they had defied gravity.

Burnett-Grant was quick to point out that during the jump-off, she had got into her zone to focus on her processes rather than dwelling on what nail-biting - but gutted - Aussie rival Clint Beresford was doing after matching her blemish-free feat on Emmaville Jitterbug but coming up shy on the clock in the two-way jump-off.

Supporters help Briar Burnett-Grant with her Horse of the Year Olympic Cup-winning red jacket but was it the right size? Photo/Paul Taylor
Supporters help Briar Burnett-Grant with her Horse of the Year Olympic Cup-winning red jacket but was it the right size? Photo/Paul Taylor

Jeff McVean said Burnett-Grant had all the attributes of an adept rider from the time he first worked with her.

"She's a really good competitor. She had natural talent. I didn't really have to say much to her at all," said the former Australian Olympian and ex-New Zealand high performance coach who was there watching his daughter, Katie Laurie.

"We've been very good family friends and I've coached just like I coached my own daughter, from the time she was riding ponies," said McVean.

Having her name etched on the Mrs RS Fullerton-Smith-donated silverware yesterday was a far cry from when Burnett-Grant had won anything here before - she had the Pony of the Year crown when she was 12.

Burnett-Grant said McVean had "been amazing" as a mentor in her career but also couldn't recall how old she was when she started under his tutelage.

"I'm so lucky to have him as a trainer," said the Taupo-nui-a-Tia College pupil, revealing she often consulted Jock Paget (who lives in her hometown), especially over winter.

She said her family was ultra-supportive, sacrificing their weekends to transport her to myriad shows around the country.

Burnett-Grant said all her horses were "pretty special so I'm very lucky" but it was Fiber Fresh Veroana's time to hog the limelight.

"He's quite cosy but we bond together really well."

Briar Burnett-Grant, of Taupo, receives one of countless hugs after winning the Olympic Cup in Hastings. Photo/Paul Taylor
Briar Burnett-Grant, of Taupo, receives one of countless hugs after winning the Olympic Cup in Hastings. Photo/Paul Taylor

So how does the effervescent Burnett-Grant celebrate?

"Umm ... I'm actually not too sure because I'm only 17 so I'm not allowed to drink," she replied, bursting into laughter as her family members watched with delight.

Asked what would happen to the magnum of champagne that came with the lucrative cheque, she said: "Yeah, yeah, I'll just watch them drink it."

She also thanked her sponsors, Stirrups Equestrian, Fiber Fresh, Vita Vet and Uptake for helping her in her journey.

Her gaggle of friends and fans gave her countless hugs and kisses amid concerns that her red winner's jacket might have been a size or two too tight or loose.

But it was Burnett-Grant's bash yesterday and it seemed like nothing was going to get in her way.