Vanessa Way and stunning Grand Prix horse KH Arvan successfully defended their national title at the Dressage New Zealand Championships at Feilding last weekend.
Way, 41, came through on 15-year-old KH Arvan to win the major title and the Burkner Medal in the freestyle Kur with a score of 69.7 per cent.
Waikato's Bill Noble (Airthrey Highlander), on 69.5, was second and Hannah Best (Zactace Graceful) was third on 67.9.
The victory came on the back of the combination's North Island Championships Grand Prix victory at Clevedon early last month.
The back-to-back successes have earned her favouritism for the main dressage event at the Horse of the Year Show at Hastings later this month.
"It is going to be a quiet show for us this year but the good part of that is that I get to see my pupils ride and catch up with friends, sponsors and supporters," Way said.
KH Arvan will do three tests in the grand prix.
As much as Way loves the atmosphere of the Horse of the Year, Arvan finds it testing.
"He is definitely more on target this year, and going better than ever, but whether we can keep that in the ring is another story. He doesn't overly love the Horse of the Year. Things there make him so nervous, but he is fit and is good and ready, and if others are better on the day, then that is the sport."
The fulltime rider-coach from Taranaki last year won the three-star FEI Grand Prix Freestyle title aboard KH Arvan.
Way's success at Feilding on Saturday capped a successful weekend, not only for herself , but two other up-and-coming Taranaki dressage riders.
Way took out the level six class riding KH Allandro, while Catherine West won the Young Rider Champion Class riding Anarocz and Oakura's Abbie Deken was second in the level eight event. All three of those combinations are expected to line up at the Horse of the Year.
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