Helen McNaught-McFarlane wins first time out on a new ride

New Zealand-based Brit Helen McNaught claimed victory first time out on ride of three weeks LT Horst Aunty Annett (Annie) at New Zealand’s Horse of the Year.

The mare imported as a two-year-old and boasting bloodlines tracing back to Cassini I and Contender, topped the Silver Fern Stakes. The win marked their first outing together.

Only two clears were produced in round one – Helen on Carnutelabryere and Clarke Johnstone’s Quainton Labyrinth. Helen also cleared all the fences on Annie, but picked up a time fault. But round two changed the line-up completely when the round-one faulters returned to jump clear.

However, Helen made no mistake on time second time out with a super clear round on Annie, and Clarke had an unlucky rail. Helen had the class sewn up one way or another, but when Brian hit a rail in the jump-off, she retired and saved him for the Olympic Cup.

“Annie was injured as a youngster and I saw her in the field as a seven-year-old broodmare, but when I saw her loose-jump on video, I decided I liked this mare. Her leg injury was just cosmetic, and I’m pleased to have got the ride on her – even if it is only temporary,” said Helen, who has had the mare in for schooling and will hand the reins to owner Brayden Aarts in the near future.

“She’s quirky, difficult to get on and couldn’t even do leg yielding three weeks ago, but she’s lovely and a real trier.”

Defending champion Helen also claimed second place in the Olympic Cup on crowd favourite Carnutelabryere, a Holsteiner 11-year-old by Cartani and out of a Cor de la Bryere mare and better known as ‘Brian’.

“He wasn’t match fit and the rain didn’t help the footing, the ground was very wet, although it wasn’t holding and held up well in the circumstances. I rode forward into the combination in round one and we pushed out a rail, but he came back into the jump-off with a super clear, said Helen.

“Brian has a pretty good record in this class, we won last year and took second the year before.”

Photo © Ana Rattray of Cheleken Photography