No one wanted to ride Buckton Showdown as he sat in the family paddock in Palmerston North for almost three years.

Two years ago, Caitlin Rennie decided to give the liver chestnut gelding a go after the pony was bought for sister Alana, now 22, in 2010.

"No one wanted to buy him because he was too hot for the show ring. We tried selling him but he was too crazy," says Rennie of Buckton Showdown.

But little did the Palmerston North Girls' High School pupil know, when she mustered enough courage to slide into the saddle, the 14-year-old English riding pony would carry her all the way to Abu Dhabi in November.

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Rennie and her pony outsprinted a field of seven over 300m down the straight to book an all-expenses paid trip with a parent during the Daffodil Raceday in Hastings on Saturday.

Annie Moffett, 11, Emma De Lautour, 13, Esmeralda Jobbins, 14, Etham Bergstrom, and Danni Bird, 13, all of Hawke's Bay, were in the line up with other regional qualifiers Lucy Browne, of Parenga, on Coastal Girl, and Lucy Marshall, of Wairarapa, on Coco Bean.

The race was the New Zealand leg of the HH Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony Race Series.

Sheikh Mansoor is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikha Lateefa is his daughter.

This is a new race series which forms part of the Sheikh Mansoor International Racing Festival.

The competition is restricted to 10 to 14-year-old riders. The international series involves nine races from nine different countries, plus the Abu Dhabi final.

"It's absolutely amazing," said Rennie, revealing she and mother Kim Clapperton had arrived here oozing with confidence.

However, it had taken more than an hour for it to sink in that she had won the trip.

Caitlin Rennie tries to maintain her perch in the saddle as Buckton Showdown hits the straight in Hastings. Photo/Paul Taylor
Caitlin Rennie tries to maintain her perch in the saddle as Buckton Showdown hits the straight in Hastings. Photo/Paul Taylor

"We knew he was very fast," said the 14-year-old, stressing they had put the pony through the spin-dry cycle at the track of Manawatu trainer Kevin Gray.

A laughing Rennie said the first time she was unable to keep control of Buckton Showdown but a couple of races later he was becoming accustomed to the sprint, going on to clinch two victories in Whanganui.

That "crazy" demeanour , she said, worked in their favour when juxtaposed with other club ponies trying to shed their placid, educated templates for the race.

"He's been doing that every day, all day and every day of the year. He just loves it."

As a show pony, Buckton Showdown has won a Horse of the Year Show crown in Hastings but he is now a showjumping prospect for Rennie.

The grinning teenager said all she had to do was hang on to him for dear life during practices because he had "looked a bit horry [rough as guts]".

Caitlin Rennie's mother, Kim Clapperton, will travel to Abu Dhabi in November. Photo/Paul Taylor
Caitlin Rennie's mother, Kim Clapperton, will travel to Abu Dhabi in November. Photo/Paul Taylor

When asked what was going through the mind of her laughing mother on the sideline on Saturday, Rennie replied: "Oh she's probably thinking, 'Oh my lord, she's not even my child'."

The jovial Year 10 pupil said she was tipping the wrong side of the bathroom scales to contemplate a career as a jockey in thoroughbred racing.

Her trainer/mother was a jockey overseas and her father, Andy Rennie, is a horse owner with prospects under the tutelage of Lisa Latta.

So who's going to Abu Dhabi with her?

"Mum, because all my horses are with her and she takes me everywhere. We're over the moon.

"I've never travelled first class before so we don't know what to expect."

It will be different from the trip to Australia and Fiji, plus she'll have a chance to ride against an international field in Abu Dhabi.

Rennie thanked race sponsors Livamol and Hawke's Bay Racing for hosting the race.

Caitlin Rennie crosses the finish line in first place with Bucton Showdown in the 300m sprint to Abu Dhabi at the Hawke's Bay Race course in Hastings on Saturday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Caitlin Rennie crosses the finish line in first place with Bucton Showdown in the 300m sprint to Abu Dhabi at the Hawke's Bay Race course in Hastings on Saturday. Photo/Paul Taylor