Long-time competitor wins Stakes, amateur titles

Margaret Ridley and Tallaght, winners of the Southland Stakes at the Southland Showjumping...
Margaret Ridley and Tallaght, winners of the Southland Stakes at the Southland Showjumping Championships in Gore, are joined by committee member Kimily McHugh and president Jo Fahey. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The Southland Showjumping Championships, an annual fixture since the 1950s, consisted of 78 classes at the Gore Showgrounds over the weekend.

The event featured 180 horses and 120 riders, the competitors' ages ranging from as young as 6 to as old as 70.

Southland Showjumping president Jo Fahey was thrilled with the weekend.

"It has been very special this year, with the highlights being our long-time competitor, and former Southlander Margaret Ridley winning both the Southland Stakes on Saturday and the amateur rider on Sunday. She has had a fantastic season on the South Island circuit, so consistent".

The Southland Stakes is for any horse and rider combination that has not cleared 1.2m during the season. All the jumps are 1.15m and Ridley and Tallaght jumped three clear rounds.

The amateur rider category is a mixture of jump sizes, ranging between 1.10m and 1.20m.

Ridley and Tallaght jumped two clear rounds in good time on Sunday morning.

Fahey said the sport was in good heart in the South.

"The Southland Showjumping Festival, held the week before Christmas, is our other big event. We had 320 horses entered this season".

Ridley (nee Menlove) was a Southland Showjumping committee member when the Southland Stakes class was introduced in 1973 and this is the first time she has won this prestigious class.

She spent her first 40 years in Central Southland, where ponies, hunting and eventing were always a big part of her life.

She married one of the country's best jump jockeys, Neill Ridley, and they raised three boys together. After his race-riding retirement in the mid-1990s the Ridleys set up a thoroughbred training establishment in Oamaru.

The outstanding flat galloper Pinnacle won 20 races for the Ridleys during the 1990s.

They moved their training operation to Riccarton and Prince Oz won seven consecutive races for the team this season.

 - John Langford

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