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Fitzsimon adds local flavour to jumping success

It’s fun on the podium as Grand Prix place-getters, Lucinda Askin, Tegan Fitzsimon and Heloise Tolo let loose with the champagne. Photo: Peter Jones.

Two clear rounds propelled Christchurch rider Tegan Fitzsimon and Windermere Cappuccino to a spectacular victory in the feature event at the two-day South Island Show Jumping and Show Hunter Championships on Sunday.

Fitzsimon provided the class act at the impressive Marlborough Equestrian Park, near Spring Creek, taking out the Premier League Series Grand Prix over jumps measuring 140-160cm.

The 29-year-old and her mount, one of the nation’s top combinations and recent winners of the New Zealand World Cup Series, brought a “local” slant to the show ring, Windermere Cappuccino being bred by the Parkes family in Marlborough and part-owned by the notable equestrian clan.

Fitzsimon was very happy with how her mount performed over the two rounds that decided the Grand Prix title.

“He’s had plenty of experience at this height but it was definitely a technical-enough track the first round … he felt better in the second round. The track rode well and it was a very competitive class so the outcome was really good.”

There is no rest for the duo, who headed across the strait tonight for more competition in the North Island. Fitzsimon says Windermere Cappuccino is in fine form this season, as his record shows.

“He won the NZ World Cup series, he’s the national Grand Prix champion, now he’s won this, so I can’t ask much more of him.”

She was also quick to acknowledge the Parkes family’s input.

“It’s good to have a local connection. They are fantastic owners and really supportive so it’s nice to get some results for them.”

She was also full of praise for the venue and the organisers.

“It looks fantastic, obviously being a South Island championship they have put a lot of effort in – the grounds are brilliant. At this time of the year it’s quite hard to get the surface just right. It looks awesome.”

Although the winning partnership, with their two clear rounds, were comfortable winners of the main event, several other combinations also stood out, although all had rails down in the first round.

In second place was Kiwi Bird, ridden by Wellington’s Heloise Tolo, while Portofino, in the hands of Ashburton rider Lucinda Askin came third.

Before the Grand Prix event members of the public took the opportunity to walk the course on a guided tour with former Olympic medallist Vaughan Jefferis and course designer Lex Peddie.

The other big event in ring one on Sunday was the Pony Grand Prix series, which was won by North Otago rider Emma Gillies on Benrose Playtime, from her sister Samantha Gillies on Junior Disco.  Third was Wembleybrook Tiffany ridden by Johanna Wylaars.

Show director Helen Ensor was thrilled with how the event, the first time for many years the SI champs have been staged in this province, went.

“It’s gone amazingly. The public attendance has been phenomenal … we are thrilled to see so many spectators here to see such wonderful jumping.”

She was also happy with the size of the entry. “It would always be great to have more [competitors] but we have got all the top South Islanders here and a lot of others as well.”

Given the success of this event, hosting the national champs becomes a possibility, a scenario Ensor would not rule out.

“It’s a possibility. It would be great to think we could do something like that. If [hosting the nationals] ever happened it is probably two years away, it would take that long to plan it.

“But we have made a start and our sponsors seem to be very happy. A lot of them say they will be back again so that’s pretty exciting. If we can make it happen again that would be great.”

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