The crowd gasped collectively in the premier arena as Hawke's Bay patriarch and four-time Norwood Gold Cup champion Maurice Beatson dropped the last rail on Mandalay Cove in Hastings.
In the backdrop of the horse entrance to the showjumping arena a few metres away, Lisa Coupe broke into a composed smile on day two of competition at the annual Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show at the Showgrounds Hawke's Bay Tomoana.
"I'm trying not to do that ugly crying thing," Coupe said, covering her mouth, as groom Sarah Murray held the reins of the horse, Lotte.
Said Murray, of Wellington: "You did it. You did it."
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But the 19-year-old started crying and the Kumeu rider lost it too. It was what Coupe was trying to avoid after shedding similar tears of joy here during the Hoy Show when she had claimed her second Ultra-Mox Lady Rider of the Year on board Matawai Sentana in 2018.
After the celebratory ritual in the arena, Coupe revealed "it was a bit of a long shot, really" for her to win on Wednesday.
She was among five combinations who had registered clear rounds for a jump-off with one other — one time faulter Lucinda Askin, of Ashburton, in the saddle of Portofino.
Cambridge-based Coupe had returned to register another clear round, emulating the feat of Kimberley Bird, of Ashburton, who had tamed the course on Cera Cassina before her on a time of 46.88 seconds in the jump off. However, Coupe had clocked 41.77s after Askin had dislodged a rail.
Nakeysha Lammers, of New Plymouth, took the pressure off Coup when she dropped two rails on a time of 43.25s before Sally Steiner, riding Cartoon NZPH, came up shy on 43.10s. So did Beatson.
Coupe revealed she was only just beginning to build a rapport with her new mount when they had finished runners-up in the 1.40m IRT Horse Showjumping event on Tuesday.
"I had a pretty good feeling about today, actually," she said. Lotte's owners, Kathryn Roberts and Rosie Commons, had offered her a free rein, as it were, to ride her at a show or throughout the season in myriad classes.
Coupe labelled the 8-year-old mount, with pedigree connections to champion rider Vicki Wilson's horse, as an "exciting one for the future". Having graduated with two clear rounds and a title to boot at the Hoy Show, she felt, was endorsement enough of Lotte's prowess and harbouring no pressing desire to bracket her in a big class this year.
She will ride in today's 1.40m Lady Rider of the Year final but not on Lotte. She also hasn't entered the marquee event, the Olympic Cup, on Sunday to signal the end of the week-long show.
"Tomorrow [Thursday] I'll just be aiming to have a good ride and just enjoy jumping out there and hope it all goes okay."
Asked to put the victory in perspective, Coupe said competing in the main arena of the Hoy Show in itself was immensely exciting but winning took the rider to a different echelon.
"You look at them and you think, 'Maybe one day', so you've had an up-and-down sort of year ... then to have something like that happen, oh yeah, this is something pretty amazing," she said, revealing she had even contemplated not riding at all this season.
"This might keep me going," she said with a laugh.
Having spent a good time away in Europe, Coupe found it had helped in preventing her nerves from becoming jangled.
"I was putting pressure on myself overseas so I didn't want it here," she said after returning home from England and Belgium in July last year. "It was pretty exciting times but lovely to be back in New Zealand and pretty exciting to have the opportunity to ride a horse like this again."
A chuckling Coupe said "the hideous, ugly crying" of her photo in the Hawke's Bay Today in 2018 had reminded her to keep herself composed, albeit all in vain.
"I suppose you've got to get a little emotional about these things sometimes because it's exciting."
Coupe, who has 5-year-old son Finn with former husband Sean Cubbit, said she had left the child with her mother, Robyn Coupe, and brought her mother's truck here instead.
"It's very sad that she's missing out," she said.
Murray said she had met Coupe in England in 2018 where they had spent a year. She had resumed her ties with the rider last November, shortly after returning home.
"We've only been to a few shows so far so having this win is very cool," Murray said, revealing she did tend to well up a little a bit in such occasions. "She's taking her time but showing in the last couple of shows [what she's capable of]."
She also labelled Lotte "lovely" — a horse which found riding a way to relax and seek attention although she was "a bit of a sook".
A couple of bottles of wine were on their agenda. Murray considered herself very lucky to work with Coupe.
A grinning Sally Clark dispelled any suggestions she was on tenterhooks watching partner Beatson compete.
"I think he had a plan — because he had a plan the whole round — but then the crowd egged him on, I think, he had changed his plan," said Clark of the jump-off.
"I think it was agonising but the horse was pretty good," said the former Olympian.
Beatson, who had finished fifth, also rode Gold Locks and Central Park in the field of 27.
The veteran rider from Dannevirke was in good spirits after the event, cracking a joke about how the makeshift platforms came in handy for "old and short riders" to mount their horses, before zipping into the arena on Mandalay Cove with the other placegetters.
A circumspect Clarke said how often did riders win the Norwood Gold Cup and Olympic Cup in a show in the same year.
"He'll just try to do that again, and again, and again," she said with a laugh of Beatson who also is a former Olympian.
Lammers was runner-up, Bird third, Steiner fourth and Askin sixth.
• 12pm: Pony championship 1.25m, rd 1.
• 2pm: Harrison Lane pro-amateur final, 1.20m-1.30m.
• 4pm: Ultra-Mox Lady Rider of the Year final 1.40m