SHARE
Winner . . . Samantha Gillies (16) has won National Young Rider of the Year at the New Zealand National Championship Jumping and Show Hunter event. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

It may seem simple, but taking a breath and relaxing can be the key to success — Samantha Gillies (16) can testify to that.

The St Kevin’s College pupil said having no expectations of herself heading into the recent New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championship in Christchurch helped her win National Young Rider of the Year.

Samantha and her horse Lumarzo went up against her good friend and four-time Young Rider of the Year winner Sophie Scott, of Palmerston North, in the 1.35m to 1.45m event for the title.

After easily clearing the section, Samantha was named champion and was over the moon with her performance.

‘‘I think the fact that I went out there . . .I didn’t sort of up myself. I went out there pretty humble because I didn’t have any expectations, so to jump the first clear round it was pretty cool,’’ she said.

‘‘Me and Sophie were sort of head-to-head.

‘‘We’ve been good mates for ages — I think she was quite happy with letting me win, I guess.’’

Riding with no pressure or expectations helped her flow better, and it played a part in her winning the 1.30m to 1.40m event too.

‘‘It was pretty good, because I was riding against adults and there was a few North Islanders in there.’’

Those performances — and her strong season — led to Samantha being selected for the new New Zealand Youth Development Squad.

‘‘It just opens up the door to lots of different opportunities to go overseas and meet lots of different people,’’ she said.

Alongside her national success, Samantha won six titles at last month’s North Otago A&P Show, including champion novice hunter and open hunter. It was her first time at the North Otago show in eight years, as it usually clashes with Horse of the Year, and Samantha said it was a great local experience.

Samantha and her younger sister Emma are now preparing for the North Island Championships and series finals next month.