Lisa Cubitt etched her name on the Merrylegs Cup for the second time when she won the Lady Rider of the Year crown in Hastings today.
On tenterhooks, Cubitt shed tears after riding Matawai Sentana to victory in the Ultramox-sponsored premier showjumping event for female riders on day three of the Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show.
"She has been away for two years and has come back with nothing — no horses to ride and she's been given these horses to sell," explained a delighted mother, Robyn Coupe, who had reminded her daughter to not forget to thank her mum as she got back on her mount for the victory celebrations in front of the main grandstand.
"She's had this horse for six weeks and she's only done three shows with it and she's picked it up at this show and just gone out and won it."
In the two years away, Cubitt was riding in Australia and the Netherlands and had returned with her Irish husband, Sean Cubbit (who she married in 2014), to start from scratch again.
The 32-year-old from Cambridge was among the six clear combinations after round one at the Tomoana Showgrounds where six other four faulters were added for the second round after a 10-minute break but no one was allowed to walk the Werner Deeg-designed course.
Cubitt was the seventh off the rank to register four faults in the second round after no one could post another clear among the unblemished combinations from round one.
The field was reduced to 11 after Olympic Cup defending champion Lily Tootil (Ulysses NZPH) withdrew with the "bigger picture" in mind as a New Zealand team member for the Horsewear Silver Fern Stakes New Zealand-Australia test at 6pm tomorrow as well as the marquee event on Sunday.
Cubitt, who dropped a rail at the second fence, was mindful of setting a scorching time (52.58s). She then watched nervously as Tegan Fitzsimon (Double J Monarch), Katie Laurie (Esteban MVNZ), Rosie Commons (Athena GNZ) and Kimberley Bird (Cera Cassina) went around after her.
There was a hush at the premier arena when Laurie (nee McVean), a former five-time Lady Rider of the Year champion, came in but, despite some briefing from her father, Jeff, her mount refused to clear a barrier twice as they were eliminated in the jump off to finish 11th.
Coupe said she was the dutiful grandmother who babysat her 3-year-old grandson, Finn, while Cubitt trained and competed.
Helping soothe her daughter's jangled nerves, though, isn't part of the motherly gesture.
"Well, I didn't actually speak to her because she's better off not having me there because we're a bit emotional so I sat by the fence and lifted my leg for her," Coupe said amid laughter, willing her daughter to clear a fence every time she had confronted one.
Coup was relieved and so happy for Cubitt who won the 2015 Lady Rider of the Year crown with Bates Amaretto MVNZ who she sold in Australia during her two-year sojourn.
Steffi Whittaker (Eros K), Alexa Randell (LC Tango) registered clear rounds in their second attempts after four faults in the opening one to make the top six placings.
Bird clocked 55.15s to finish second and Fitzsimon 56.53s to claim third place ahead of Emily Hayward on Belischi HM (58.54s).
■ Ultramox Lady Rider of the Year final: 1st Lisa Cubitt and Matawai Sentana, 2nd Kimberley Bird and Cera Cassina, 3rd Tegan Fitzsimon and Double J Monarch, 4th Emily Hayward and Belischi HM, 5th Steffi Whittaker and Eros K, 6th Alexa Randell and LC Tango.
■ GJ Gardner pro amateur rider of the year final: 1st James Cottle and Oracle WT, 2nd Sally Clark and Victoria's Secret, 3rd Anna Trent and Corodette Xtreme, 4th Tamara Silcock and Steel Magnolia, 5th Lucia Voss and Grand Coeur 36, 6th Shelley Ross and Onward.
■ Pryde's EasiFeed NZ pony championship final 1.25m: 1st Sophie Scott and Benrose Playtime, 2nd Grace Manera and Tallyho Scoundrel, 3rd Emma Watson and Maddox Fun House, 4th Rylee Sheehan and Tony the Pony, 5th Olivia Adams and Mr Black Magic, 6th Summer Denise and Limerick's Black Samba.