The Anything But Standard Challenge 2019/20
The Anything But Standard Challenge was first held in 2017 in Auckland as a one off event to promote the standardbred as a versatile sport horse and to provide a goal for those with newly broken in standardbreds to work towards.
Due to its popularity the following season saw the Anything But Standard Challenge return, this time being held in both Auckland and Christchurch.
Due to low numbers the viability of the Challenge was questioned and show organisers considered whether they should hold it in the 2019-2020 season.
Following a review of the schedule, the conditions and a large amount of interest from both competitors and potential sponsors the Anything But Standard Challenge went ahead.
This year’s competition was expanded to provide all standardbreds the opportunity to compete.
The Anything But Standard Challenge now contains 3 different categories; the Anything But Standard Challenge for standardbreds broken to saddle from the 1st of February the previous season, the Raising The Standards Challenge for any standardbred that holds a Novice showing status regardless of when it was broken in to saddle and the Setting The Standards Challenge for those standardbreds holding an open show status regardless of when they were broken to saddle.
The South Island edition of the Anything But Standard Challenge was held in early February at Selwyn Equestrian; the property of well-known standardbred show rider, breeder and owner Chanelle Dickie.
The day kicked off with the Best Conditioned class which was open to all competitors regardless of what Challenge they were entered in and Bex Glass started her day as she meant to finish, with a win.
Bex and her beautiful Art Major/Boom Time Bay mare Bonnie Doon took home the sash after a closely fought contest with Hayley Rossiter and Borntobeastar.
Bonnie Doon was the convincing winner of the Dunstan Anything But Standard Challenge – South Island after taking home wins in the Inhand Showing, Jumping and Obstacle sections and picking up valuable points in the Ridden Showing (5th) and Dressage (3rd).
The Runner Up and Dressage Challenge winner, Anna Hynes and Dundee Lady, made it a worthwhile trip over from Greymouth. Kelly Clapperton and her gorgeous Muscle Mass gelding Irish Moss, another long distance traveler making their way up from Waikouaiti, were in 3rd place overall after putting on a great display to claim the Ridden Showing Challenge.
The consistent Prodigal Seelster mare Betty Jones for Brianna Roxborough was 4th, 11 win pacer Rangataua Ray for Fiona Helm placed 5th with Caitlin Hopkinson and Blazin Creek rounding out the top 6.
While there were many deserving winners throughout the Challenges there was no story more touching than that of Juliana Sargeant, the winner of the HRNZ Raising the Standards South Island Challenge, with her 16 year old Now Another Look gelding Return Journey.
Finding time to put aside to train Return Journey, known as Goldie, has been incredibly hard for Juliana due to also being a mum to 3 young children all under the age of 5.
Juliana has also been fighting for her life after being diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer with her third, and hopefully final operation, being the week after the South Island Challenge.
The Challenge was a goal for Juliana to help her through her cancer battle and she credits Goldie with helping to keep her motivated and positive and says he helped her beat the odds. Juliana and Goldie were incredibly consistent across all five of the challenges placing second in the Inhand Showing, Ridden Showing, Dressage and Obstacle Challenges and placing fourth in the Jumping Challenge before being named Overall Raising the Standard Challenge – South Island Champion.
Our thoughts and best wishes are with Juliana during her recovery.
Runner up in the HRNZ Overall Raising the Standard Challenge – South Island went to Kat Gardiner and Jonny Be Goode (formally Franco Radial), with Maree McNally and Avenel’s Dash Atom in 3rd.
Amy Anderson and the Washington VC gelding Rico Gold were 4th.
Last year’s Best Conditioned and the 2nd of her two horses was Fiona Helm with Dali Bread taking out the 5th placing and another returning competitor Rena Johnsen with the only mare in this Challenge, Laila Franco, were in 6th.
The North Island Challenge also took place in February at Showfields Equestrian and kicked off with the Southridge Equine Best Conditioned class once again being judged from competitors from all 3 Challenges.
The final 4 were pulled forward with Shake Your Bon Bon for Christina Bird, Major Ouch for Claire Madden and Dougie Maguire for Jenn Savill lining up against eventual winner No Way Else for Katie Steffert.
The North Island Challenge was dominated by horses that were retained by their racing owners including the Jenny Collins owned, dual gaited Russian Alsu competed by daughter Natasha.
The 8 win trotting gelding, Meyer Lansky, owned and trained by Jill Coppins and competed by granddaughter Kate Coppins who is making a name for herself as a talented Kidz Karts driver.
The Splashout Syndicate’s Realmein competed by syndicate member and well respected vet Catherine Pemberton.
The Still Racing Signseeldeliver for trainer Jo Stevens, who rides the mare for her partner’s mother, Wendy Ferguson. The Claire Madden owned pair of former Taranaki Cup winner, Major Ouch, competed by herself and her late father in laws Gotham Bromac competed by close friend Lexi Nolan.
The Dunstan Overall Anything But Standard Challenge – North Island went to the 5 win Elsu mare, Russian Alsu for Natasha Collins who won the Ridden Showing and Obstacle challenges. Runner Up went to the Still Racing Signseeldeliver who after only 3 weeks under saddle performed like a professional throughout the day and was very capably handled by Jo Steven.
Third went to Catherine Pemberton and the 15 win trotting gelding Realmein, the Pemberton family also provided sponsorship for the Challenge under the name of their former top trotter Buster Hanover.
Fourth in the Overall went to the Whangarei combination of Sylvie Webby and Barefoot Barbie, Desert Prince and Holly Barribal were 5th. In 6th position was Renee Hooker with the ex-Steve Telfer trained, Delightful Zen. Stonewall Stud featuring as another harness racing identity that sponsored the Challenge.
The Lincoln Farms Overall Raising The Standards Challenge – North Island was a hard fought affair with multiple horses in the running for the top spots.
Danni Silich and the well related, Show A Heart, triumphed in the end after taking out the Dressage and Jumping sections as well as placing 3rd in Ridden Showing and Obstacle.
The very consistent, Chiltons Vocation, for Monique Bennett made it worth their trip down from Whangarei placing in every section and taking home the Runner Up title. Third went to the 2 win Sundon/Natural Glow gelding Viking Ruler and Annalise Bennett. 4th went to the Inhand and Ridden Showing winner Lasvegasherewecome and Leigh Taylor.
5th was take out by Veronica Moore and Jet Banner who also took home the Obstacle Challenge win after an interrupted preparation due to injuries, and 6th was 16 win Bettor’s Delight pacer On The Razzle with our youngest competitor Bella Jackson at just 12 years of age.
The Setting The Standards Challenge, sponsored by Mortgage Link Waikato, was only held in the North Island and was a small but quality field with both Major Ouch and Dougie Maguire heading to Horse of the Year in Hastings in March and Gotham Bromac a former Runner Up at Horse of the Year returning to competition this season after a long injury lay off.
Six win Art Major gelding, Major Ouch, for Claire Madden was the Overall Setting the Standards Challenge winner after claiming the Inhand Showing, Ridden Showing and Obstacle sections.
Continentalman gelding, Gotham Bromac, took out the Runner Up positon after taking wins in the Dressage and Jumping sections for Lexi Nolan. The former Geoff Small trained, 9 win Elsu gelding Dougie Maguire taking 3rd for Jenn Savill after placing 2nd in both the Inhand and Ridden Showing sections.
Next year’s Challenges will be held on the 16th of January 2021 for the South Island with the venue once again being at the Selwyn Equestrian Centre and the North Island Challenge will be on the 7th of February with the venue to be confirmed.
The organisers of The Anything But Standard Challenge would like to thank everyone who supported them with running these events especially all the sponsors.
Harness Racing New Zealand
Mortgage Link Waikato
Standardbred Recycling & Rehoming Canterbury
Movement Matters Equine Sports Therapy
The Digital Birdcage
Wai Eyre Farm
Stonewall Stud and Stables
Olive Grove Equestrian
Dylan Ferguson/Rogerson Racing
Stevens & Ferguson Racing Stables
Equine Rebalancing Services
Arna Donnelly Racing Stables
Selwyn Equestrian Centre
Without all these amazing people, businesses, stables etc. we would be unable to run the Challenge. Thank you so much for ongoing support not only of the Challenge but of Life After Racing in general.