Tegan Fitzsimon has won her third POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series after a nail-biting victory in the final in Hawera.

The West Melton rider steered her beloved Windermere Cappuccino to double clear over the Gary Sinclair-designed course at the Taranaki Equestrian Jumping World Cup Final Show but hot on her heels was young gun Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) who was second aboard Waitangi Skynet and third on Glenbrooke Rich as Roses.

Twelve started the final with just Tegan and Sophie, the baby of the field in her first season of World Cups, aboard Waitangi Skynet completing with zero faults. While Melody Matheson (Havelock North) and Cortaflex Enya MH were clear jumping, they picked up two time faults. Ten combinations came back for the second round where clears came from Sophie and both her mounts, Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) aboard her homebred Selena C, and two-time final winner Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea. However, all but Tegan and 20-year-old Sophie aboard Waitangi Skynet, carried penalties from the first round.

Running in reverse order, it came down to the wire with Tegan having to go double clear and faster than Sophie’s 58.34-second effort to secure the final. The queen of cool came out firing, and while Windermere Cappuccino looked a little more of a handful than in the first, they crossed the flags in 57.46 seconds.

Tegan’s win gave her a perfect score in the series, which counts just their best four finishes, with four victories from their five starts.

“I am so lucky to have such an amazing horse,” said 31-year-old Tegan. “He just gets out into the ring and adores his job.” He was out with injury for last season’s final, making this year all the more special. “I am so thankful to have the ride on him and share joint ownership with the Parkes family.”

She admitted going last in the running order was not her favourite spot, but the pressure was off a little when Sophie notched a double clear as Tegan knew then she had the series in the bag.

“Vollie (Windermere Cappuccino) got a little toey out there and I think we had a bit of luck on our side. The course rode really well too and was nice and flowing which suited us. He is quite a short-striding horse and I had to switch to plan B coming into the treble but otherwise it was all as I thought it would be,” she said.

“I am very happy to have won both the final and the series. We head home to the South Island tomorrow and are aiming for the National Champs in early February. The horses will have a little break in the coming days.”

She congratulated the show committee for putting on a top-class event, with near perfect footing for the horses, and in challenging times.

Sophie too was ecstatic with the efforts of both her horses.

Just the rider’s four best rounds counted towards their series score, with the winner of the series having the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the final in Leipzig (GER) in April – should it go ahead. The World Cup series is the highest ranked international competition in New Zealand.

POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Final (in conjunction with Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre):
1. Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) Windermere Cappuccino
2. Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) Waitangi Skynet
3. Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) Glenbrooke Rich as Roses
4. Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) Selena C
5. Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Central Park
6. Melody Matheson (Havelock North) Cortaflex Enya MH

POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series (best four to count): Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) 90 points 1, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 68 points 2, Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) 64 points 3.