The annual NZTBA-sponsored Ready Teddy Award was held at the Matamata Horse Trials over the weekend.
The Ready Teddy Award is presented to the highest performing thoroughbred at the event where horses and riders must compete in three disciplines - dressage, showjumping and cross-country.
Seven thoroughbreds competed in the 4* star class for the coveted prize with Brittany Fowler and Game Keeper, an Australian-bred gelding by Beautiful Crown, taking home the top honours.
Brittany, an accomplished rider who has been competing for over 12 years since the age of nine and Game Keeper, or Cody as he is affectionately known, have been a formidable team for nearly three years.
They have already had some great success together including competing as part of the New Zealand Young Rider Trans-Tasman team who last year went to Australia where they placed 4th in the 3* and won the Best Performed Thoroughbred award.
Cody become a member of the Brittany Fowler Equestrian team when Brittany’s 17yo full height pony retired. She was on the lookout for her next star and with the help of Clarke Johnstone, she purchased Cody off Vaughan Jeffries who was selling him on behalf of thoroughbred racehorse trainer, Bryce Newman.
The Matamata Horse Trial event was only the second 4* star event the pair have competed in together and although the weekend went well, Brittany still finds it a little intimidating.
“I’m still very new to the 4* level so it is quite scary still,” Fowler said.
“The weekend went really well. He was a bit hot in the dressage but still did some great work to finish up in third after the first phase. The show jumping was a big hard course, we had two rails down, but he did some great jumps. He was a machine in cross-country, producing a clear round and only gaining 1.2 time faults, the next quickest person had 9.2 time faults.”
Fowler is very complimentary of the thoroughbred as sport horse and their ability to make the grade as eventers.
“There is nothing quite like the speed and stamina of a thoroughbred on a cross country course. Not only are they so quick and easy to get and keep fit, but they also have a great work ethic as well.”
Outside of riding Game Keeper and Oak, her other recently acquired thoroughbred, Brittany rides breakers and pre-trainers at the stables of John and Rachel Malcolm in Matangi where she has been for three months. Prior to this she started in the racing industry in February of last year where she was at a spelling farm and then worked for Graham Thomas before his retirement.
While Brittany is always on the look out for her next thoroughbred superstar when going about her daily work-life, she is also conscious of not over-committing herself to allow her to focus on her team of rising stars.
This year they will complete the Taupo 4* Three-day event and the Puhinui 4* star event on the path to gain their qualifications to compete in the April 2024 Adelaide 5*.