It has been a long time coming but Hawke's Bay showjumper Brooke Edgecombe reckons she'll find a sense of parity when she sits down with husband Oliver at the dinner table of their home in Waipukurau now.
"[Oliver] won it in 2007 so I also wanted to win it as well to be even at the dinner table," said Edgecombe after she had etched her name on the Stirrups Equestrian Olympic Cup in Hastings on Sunday. The 39-year-old had completed two clear rounds — as well as an unblemished jump off — on LT Holst Andrea at the end of the marquee event of the annual Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show.
Oliver had won the title on JJ Freelance and was there with their 2-year-old daughter, Sophie, to congratulate her. His uncle and five-time champion, Maurice Beatson, of Dannevirke, was the last Bay winner in 2013 on My Gollywog. The veteran didn't find traction with Central Park first up and was eliminated when Mandalay Cove threw him off his perch at an obstacle today.
"He knows the horse and myself like no one else — nobody knows us better than him because he knows exactly what to do and say," a beaming Edgecombe said of her 42-year-old husband who had quietly instilled confidence during her last warm-up that she could prevail.
After all the stock questions were spent on her Edgecombe was overcome with emotions when asked what the victory had meant to her.
"It's a huge boost," she said, tears welling up before she had to wipe them away from her blushing cheeks.
"You always have in the back of your mind that you think you can do it but with the class like this all the stars have to line up and whatever happens, happens and today it did.
"The biggest disappointment about my whole riding career is that I never really thought that I could do it and today [Sunday] I believed I could do it, yeah."
Edgecombe had pipped Hastings rider Melody Matheson, in the saddle of Cortaflex Graffiti MH, in the jump-off in 50.53 seconds while the latter had dropped a rail early in the jump-off.
Matheson had clocked 66.56s (compared with Edgecombe's 69.63s) in the second clear round and had registered the quickest opening clear round of 86.33s, after the winner's 94.59s.
Edgecombe noted Matheson was runner-up last year and Tegan Fitzsimon (Windermere Cappuccino ) also had emulated last year's feat with a third place on Sunday.
"They're amazing riders in a really strong class ... I don't think there was one weak combination in it," she said of the field of 21 who wowed an almost-full grandstand.
Edgecombe said it was sometimes a case of sheer luck in the elite classes and Matheson and Fitzsimon were the epitome of that edict.
"They were just unlucky because it wasn't like they had done anything wrong and I was just lucky."
Edgecombe, as a youngster, had followed in the footsteps of older sister Kim, who is married to US-born Olympian Greg Best, of Otane. The sister was there to hug Edgecombe with their mother, Jan Zander, next to the horse-shoe entrance of the premier arena at Showgrounds Hawke's Bay Tomoana.
A laughing Edgecombe said before the Olympic Cup her other biggest acquisition here was a pro-am "a very, very long long time ago".
She gave her 11-year-old mare an appraisal, rating her "really good" at the final round of the World Cup series in Dannevirke but felt she'd had "a couple of hard" outings at the Takapoto Show.
"She probably never did anything bad but just [knocked off] one rail here and one there," said Edgecombe, revealing it had been a little like that here this week, too.
She felt everything seemed to have aligned at the Olympic Cup, including the sunbathed Werner Deeg-designed course where the time in the opening round had been adjusted from 92 seconds to 95.
"She just felt much better today for some reason, being at the end of the week and have a day off [on Saturday]."
She suspected having the cup start at 2.10pm rather than a later time — as some other marquee events had in the week — had probably suited her mount.
Edgecombe lauded Vicki Wilson, of Hastings, for performing "body work" on LT Holst Andrea and former Australian Olympian Jeff McVean for mentoring her.
The Edgecombes break 50 per cent of horses from "best owner" Ewen McIntosh in Taupo. She gave the "media shy" McIntosh a hug after the interview, adding his nous would only boost the Kiwi clout in showjumping.
McIntosh had bought Andrea in Germany on the advice of a friend but as a young horse she was "mediocre".
"She's had three foals and Oliver had started to ride on her but didn't like her," she said.
The mount had ended up with Sean Cubbit and ex-wife Lisa Coupe but when they had gone overseas Andrea returned to Waipukurau and "reluctantly" Edgecombe had taken on the horse again.
"She probably isn't everyone's cup of tea," she explained. "But halfway through her 7-year-old year it was just like the penny had dropped with her."
Edgecombe labelled Andrea careful, 100 per cent honest and a trier — the main attributes they look for in any horse.
The "old Coronavirus" had become a fly in the ointment for the rider who, with Fitzsimon, had achieved a certificate of capability to the Tokyo Olympics.
The plan to travel to Australia for a couple of shows is now on the backburner so it's a wait-and-see scenario with what unfolds with the status of the global medical alert.
"Maybe in our spring possibly do something in Australia and come back for the start of our world cup [series] season again," she said.
Not one who imbibes much, a grinning Edgecombe said she was "liking a few gins at the moment" so that might be on the agenda when they have a shindig with the likes of fellow Bay equestrians and CHB neighbours such as couple Simon and Claire Wilson, Logan Massie and Samantha Carrington.