Melody Matheson has done her time in the New Zealand young riders' team so when she got a call-up to represent the senior national ranks last week she was over the moon.
"I'm too old for that [the young riders' team has a cut-off at 21] now but when I did do it I was there for four years," said Matheson, who has had a memorable spell with her mount, Graffiti MH, in the Bayleys Real Estate World Cup Qualifying Series before she lost her perch in the penultimate round at Dannevirke in early January.
The Hastings 23-year-old said the purple patch definitely had something to do with her cup stint.
She will take Graffiti MH through the motions in the 1.40m warm-up class of the week-long Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show today.
The Kiwi team will take on their Australian counterparts in the annual Transtasman Jumping Challenge in the Silver Ferns Stakes from 6pm at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds on Friday.
The other New Zealand representatives and their mounts are Lily Tootill and Ulysses NZPH, veteran Maurice Beatson and Mandalay Cove, Tess Clark and Sinatra II, and Robert Steele and LT Holst Bernadette Reserve.
The Aussies comprise Brooke Langbecker and Quintago, Stuart Jenkins and Fairview Aliquidam, Clint Beresford and Emmaville Jitterbug and Hayden James and James Continue.
"It's pretty cool to have Maurice on the team because at times I've been taking advice from him," said Matheson.
The final-year business degree student at Massey University said it also was great to be in the team with two other friends, Tootill and Clark, 28, of Gisborne.
Tootill, of Karaka, clinched the Olympic Cup in her maiden entry, with Ulysses NZPH, in the marquee event of the Horse of the Year Show last year.
Ulysses NZPH, affectionately known as Ronald to the initiated because Tootill's a closet Harry Potter fan and reckons his personality mirrors character Ronald Weasley, is the product of Haupouri Station in Ocean Beach.
The stud is the brainchild of Warwick Hansen, an accomplished grand prix showjumper, who started the breeding business in partnership with former All Black captain David Kirk in 1995.
"I think we'll all do quite well," said Matheson, revealing they have competed in myriad events around the country and know each other well as well as their mounts over the years.
Graffiti MH stands at 16.3 hands high. Angela Miller, of Havelock North, and Judith Matthews, of Kaitaia , own the 8-year-old mare.
Matheson has been conscious of not pushing Graffiti MH too hard, too early but believes they have reached a stage where it's becoming more plausible to push the boundaries for higher honours.
"I think I'm capable of putting in a couple of clear rounds," she said when asked what she brought to the national team with a pedigree mount.
Matheson said there was no need for any consternation among the riders who also were rivals in other classes at the Hoy Show this week.
Graffiti MH, she said, would be a little fresh in the warm-up class today but she was hoping the mount would register a couple of clear rounds going into Friday.
After a spell, the horse competed at a show for a warm-up to win the 1.40m class three weeks ago.
Early this month they competed in the Takapau Classic where they "unluckily" hit the first rail.
"She went really well there, though, but just put me out of the money."
Matheson also will ride Matthews' 5-year-old Enya MH and Illusion SSH, which Nicole McGee, of Tauranga, owns.
Hoping to graduate this year in Palmerston North, she is excited about competing at the Elysian Fields, in Canungra, Queensland, with Graffiti MH, from April 27-29.
"I hope everything goes smoothly before we leave," she said, lauding the horse owners for their support.
Matheson said competitions of that ilk would only broaden the horse and her horizon as a champion combination.