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Sheehan wins the big one

... and Bibby bags the quinella in the Country TV Pony Grand Prix.

Te Aroha teen Rylee Sheehan and Bandito NZPH may have only three Grand Prix events to their credit but they notched their second victory in the Equestrian Sports New Zealand-sponsored class on the final day of the equestrian championships in Gisborne yesterday.

Eight combinations lined up to be challenged by veteran designer Kevin Hansen’s course at the Larsen Sawmilling Equestrian Championships.

Opening-round clears came from Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) on Campari and 15-year-old Sheehan.

Jesse Linton (Hastings) had four faults on each of his mounts, LT Holst Elsbeth and Cavallino, as did Mikayla Herbert (Rotorua) on Grand Caballo, and Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) on McMillans Ariados.

Drew Carson (Putaruru) and LC Autograph had eight faults.

Olivia Newsom (Tauranga) was incredibly unlucky on Caretino Jewel. The in-form combination were coming through the double when the fill in the second fence fell, the horse got a fright and Newsom came off.

The remaining seven combinations came back for the second round, where Carson and Wilson both notched clear rounds but were carrying faults.

Fitzsimon and Campari went double clear, stopping the clock at 68.47 seconds and putting all the pressure on stablemate Sheehan, who had to give it his best shot if he was to win.

While he nudged one fence, he and his bay gelding came home all clear in 63 seconds to take the victory.

“Sometimes I do let him go a bit much but it pays off when you get results like this,” Sheehan said of the 10-year-old, who has been with him for nearly two years.

“Our first season was a bit hit and miss but now we trust each other and things are going well.”

He figures the new arena at home may have made the difference.

“I never expected him to go this well at this level so quickly. He started going so well in young riders so we just went up.”

Sheehan says he loves the energy of his horse.

“He always wants to do well for me.”

The win in the Horse Grand Prix came on the back of victory in the FMG Young Rider on Saturday, and yesterday Sheehan and Tony the Pony were fourth in the Country TV Pony Grand Prix.

ESNZ Horse Grand Prix: Rylee Sheehan (Te Aroha) Bandito NZPH 1, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Campari 2, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) McMillans Ariados 3, Jesse Linton (Hastings) LT Holst Elsbeth 4, Drew Carson (Putaruru) LC Autograph 5, Jesse Linton (Hastings) Cavallino 6.

CLEAR: Te Aroharider Rylee Sheehan, on Bandito NZPH, clears a jump in the Horse Grand Prix at Showgrounds Park yesterday.Pictures by Liam Clayton
OVER SAFELY: Pony Grand Prix winner Dylan Bibby on My Funky Monkey gets over a fence.