By Duane Ranger
New Zealand Showjumping champion, 15-year-old Tyla Hackett, is now starting to make a name for herself in harness racing.
But the New Zealand Junior Rider-of-the-Year was always destined to be better than average with horses being the oldest daughter of Waiuku standardbred trainers Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis.
On Friday 26 May, Tyla rode three-win trotter, Majestic Ali, to victory in the first Monte Saddle Trot at Alexandra Park.
It was an exhibition trot comprising six starters—half of them trained by Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis. Their daughter didn’t let them down cuddling the Majestic Son mare up to win easily by three lengths from Makarewa Jake (Riina Maattanen) and Cool Son (Tayla Wenn).
“Riina is very good at this. They do a lot of saddle trot racing in Europe and she said it was very popular over there. I’m really pleased that Mum and Dad are trying to get the sport off the ground here in Auckland. I really enjoy it because it’s a cross between riding and trotting.
“I especially love riding Majestic Ali. She’s definitely my favourite horse. I don’t like riding Makarewa Jake. He is a bumpy ride,” Tyla said.
Tyla and Riina Maattanen have now won all four Monte trots held this autumn nailing two apiece.
Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained the winner, Makarewa Jake, in the first Monte Saddle Trot at Franklin Raceway on 29 April. Pukekohe stablehand, Riina Maattanen rode the 7-year-old to a two-and-a-quarter length victory. 
A week later, Saturday 13 May, on the same track the Wallis and Hackett trained three-win Majestic Son mare, Majestic Ali, won over the same distance. Tyla did the riding. Then on May 20 the Wallis and Hackett trained and Maattanen ridden Blood And Whisky won a R40 and faster saddle trot by three quarters of a length.
“Mum and Dad have done well in harness racing, but now it’s time for me to out-shine them,” Tyla joked. “I’m grateful for the opportunities they have given me and my sister, Crystal (13).”
The Year 11 Waiuku College student has been riding since she was four. Tyla said she wanted to further her career in saddle trots but her heart lay with show jumping.
“I’m doing okay in that sport and really want to go as far as I can. I also enjoy working the horses for my parents—both driving and riding, but for me show jumping is where my heart is.”
Photos by Courtney MacKinnon 



ABOVE AND BELOW: Tyla Hackett on her way to winning the first Monte Saddle Trot at Alexandra Park aboard Majestic Ali.
Below: Tyla Hackett was all smiles after her victorious win aboard Majestic Ali.
BELOW: The excitement of winning the first Monte Saddle Trot at Alexandra Park was clearly evident on Tyla Hackett’s face while being interviewed straight after the win. Photo by Courtney MacKinnon