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Riding high: Lucy Olphert on Eve Saint Laurent on their way to finishing second in last year's Equitana Auckland Grand Prix

By PHILIP CHANDLER

One of New Zealand’s top showjumping riders has shifted to Queenstown to start a new chapter in her life.

Professional rider and coach Lucy Olphert, who’s moved down from Mount Maunganui, says
Queenstown’s a place she’s long admired, and being an outdoorsy person, ‘‘it just seemed like an obvious choice’’.

‘‘It literally is a change of scenery, and it’s one I’m very excited to explore.’’

The 32-year-old, who’s represented NZ seven times, showed her talent last year when, on a borrowed horse, she picked up $100,000 for winning a big event in Mexico.

‘‘I think 80 of the riders were male, 87 were on their own horse, and then there was me.’’

Currently, her best horse, Eve Saint Laurent, is injured, so she’s not competing, but she still has hopes she can make the Olympics one day.

‘‘The beauty of this sport is, to a certain point, you’re not limited by age, and some of our greatest riders have had some of their biggest successes in their later years.’’

Her focus right now is coaching — she’s taking clinics around the country virtually every weekend.

If it weren’t for Covid-19 closing borders, she’d be overseas overseeing her Global Amateur Tour, which she co-founded in 2018.

It’s a competition for international riders, on borrowed horses, who’d otherwise not get a
chance to compete.

Last year’s circuit took in Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Argentina and NZ.

Asked what she loves about showjumping, she says she loves the challenge.

‘‘Your teammate doesn’t even speak your own language, and you’re working with a 500 or 600kg animal and trying to convince them what you’re doing is a good idea.

‘‘I love that feeling of harmony when you get that from your horse.’’

Olphert, who rode professionally in Europe for four years after leaving school, then went to
university and joined ‘‘the rat-race’’ before resuming her career in 2016, says ‘‘I’m always looking for the next challenge’’.

‘‘If you’re not constantly challenging yourself, you’re not moving forward.’’

To that end, in February she competed in a 50km race, Rotorua’s Tarawera Ultramarathon, to fundraise for a four-year-old diagnosed with leukemia.

She signed up only a week before and warmed up with just an 8km jog.

Next February she’s doing the event’s 100-miler.

‘‘Although the challenge is outside the realm of my normal sport, it’s a challenge all the same, and it also keeps me fit for my riding.’’

scoop@scene.co.nz