Barefoot Beauty takes Tait Trophy

Barefoot Beauty takes Tait Trophy
Photo by Take the Moment

By Diana Dobson

A barefoot, opinionated mare who loves to be the centre of attention proved her worth today winning the JLT CNC105 Tait Trophy Championship at the Kihikihi International Horse Trial.
Spellbound carried her owner and rider Christine Jeffs (Matakana) to victory with double clear in the showjumping to finish on 33.3 penalty points, edging out runner-up Abigail Long (Levin) and My Tom Tom on 34.
Movie director Jeffs, who is currently doing a masters in fine arts, was over the moon with her “beautiful” mare.
“I didn’t even know we had won until I got a call from a friend. I am blown away. Really thrilled and very proud of her. Sassy (Spellbound) is a real performer on every level,” she said. “She is hot but just wants to get on with the job.”
The combination were second after the dressage, after gaining a score of 30.5 penalty points. Leader Jeffrey Amon (Murupara) and RM Limbo were just ahead on 28.4.
Jeffs slipped a spot to third after the cross country after picking up 2.8 time penalties, with Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) and Pioneer Canny Lad taking the lead after a lovely clear and inside time effort over the John Nicholson-designed course.
However, a very expensive rail near the end of the showjumping saw McKinstry slip to seventh place overall.
Jeffs got the Hanoverian Spellbound as a rising seven-year-old three years ago. She was imported from Germany as a foal to be a brood mare.
“She was pretty wild,” she said, “but I was attracted by her breeding.”
The combination won their first outing in 2014 in training, followed by a couple of pre-novice trials.
“She wasn’t really ready and we then ended up doing dressage for a year.”
After a two-year break Jeffs said she wanted to get back into eventing. They had a few lead-in events before hitting Kihikihi.
“I ride her all the time and we do a lot of beach work and hacking, so I know her very well. She is just amazing . . . one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses.”
Jeffs was happy with their dressage score and absolutely loved the cross country.
“I didn’t have a watch so got a couple of time faults but I wanted to be careful on her and concentrate on going clear.”
Being quite green, Spellbound had plenty to take in on the cross country course.
“There were a lot of firsts out there for us . . . all the technical stuff is new to her. She is a funny combination of super spooky and super bold.”
Spellbound has been barefoot for three years and carefully managed by Jeffs and a farrier.
“She is very balanced. All of my horses are barefoot. Ultimately I think it is better for their feet as long as they are looked after but it is something we evaluate every day. It may well be that as we go up (the levels) we may need to shoe her.”
Jeffs has lessons with Shelley Ross and Angela Lloyd, and has also done a Jock Paget Clinic.
She is now contemplating doing the Taupo Three Day, an event she last competed at 20 years ago aboard Short Black.
Fittingly, Spellbound today was wearing Short Black’s bridle.
Also on hand for Kihikihi was Jeff’s partner John Toon, who doesn’t usually travel to events but have brought good luck today.

Results – JLT CNC105 Tait Trophy Championship: Christine Jeffs (Matakana) Spellbound 33.3 penalty points 1, Abigail Long (Levin) My Tom Tom 34 2, Sophie Wilkinson (Taupo) Astek Gravitty 35.2 3, Christen Lane (Pukekohe) Henton Armada 35.4 4, Danielle Wheeler (Clevedon) Pierre 35.4 5, Sophie Wilkinson (Taupo) Astek Varius 35.4 6.


Date Added: Sunday, 9th April 2017