Rid­ing for Sarah Rose

Friend rides on for lost eques­trian star

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - CHANEL KINNIBURGH chanel.kinniburgh@news.com.au

FAM­ILY and friends of 16-yearold Sarah Rose Beltz, right, have paid trib­ute to her mem­ory in the best way they know how — by tak­ing part in an eques­trian event.

Sarah, who trag­i­cally died of meningo­coc­cal disease in July, had dreamt of com­pet­ing in the Grand Na­tion­als. Yes­ter­day, close friend Ava Halloran qual­i­fied for the com­pe­ti­tion — on Sarah’s horse, Just an Enigma.

TAS­MA­NIAN eques­trian star Sarah Rose Beltz dreamt of com­pet­ing in the Grand Na­tion­als, but she trag­i­cally died from meningo­coc­cal disease in July be­fore she had her shot in the big arena.

Re­fus­ing to let the 16-yearold’s hard work go to waste, Sarah’s fam­ily and friends have con­tin­ued to train her horse Just an Enigma, bet­ter known as Nigs, for the past three months.

Nigs and Sarah’s close friend Ava Halloran, also 16, yes­ter­day came one step closer to mak­ing her dream a re­al­ity, qual­i­fy­ing for Grand Na­tion­als af­ter tak­ing out three of the top awards at the Show Horse Coun­cil Spring Gala in Launce­s­ton.

“It was a day of mixed emo­tions but I know Sarah was with me all the way,” Ava said.

“If Sarah was here she would’ve told me to ride it like I stole it and to have the best time.

“The show world is an in­ter­est­ing scene but it’s so amaz­ing to see every­one come to­gether dur­ing such a hard and dif­fi­cult time.

“I’ll be rid­ing for Sarah this sea­son and I want to sup­port as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, that’s what she would’ve done.”

Com­peti­tors’ num­ber­plates and the cham­pion rib­bons were switched from the tra­di­tional colours to pink and pur­ple in Sarah’s mem­ory.

Belinda Beltz, who watched on from the arena side­lines for the first time since her daugh­ter’s death, told the Mer­cury Sarah would’ve been so proud of Nigs’ per­for­mance.

“It’s not the same as see­ing my girl on her, but it’s so spe­cial to see all her hard work pay­ing off out there,” Ms Beltz said.

“Sarah’s dream was to ride Nigs in the Grand Na­tion­als. She qual­i­fied this year and en­tered to ride but a horse jumped on her foot and broke it.

“She was so dev­as­tated. I told her she had the rest of her life ahead of her and I promised her she’d be able to ride next March.

“She was taken way too soon, she still had so much to live for.”

Sarah, af­fec­tion­ately known as ‘ Sarz’, ‘ Sarah Bear’ and ‘RaRa’, passed away from meningo­coc­cal disease just hours af­ter she was rushed to emer­gency on July 12.

Ms Beltz said she and Sarah’s dad Nick missed their “an­gel” ev­ery day but were com­forted by the out­pour­ing of love and sup­port they’d re­ceived since her death.

“I have to be­lieve she was taken for her kind heart and

pure soul,” she said.

“I get about 30 mes­sages a day from peo­ple re­mem­ber­ing Sarah. Some­times I mes­sage back and some­times I don’t, but to re­ceive those thoughts is lovely.

“It’s so nice to think she was so well re­garded and loved. Every­one is try­ing to do what they can to help.”

Ms Beltz said Nigs couldn’t have con­tin­ued com­pet­ing if it weren’t for the sup­port of Sarah’s Aunty Debi, breeder Brooke Knott, spon­sors Kim Sym­mons of Petrusma real es­tate and Anne and Peta McMinn from Horse­land Ho­bart, coach Fiona Fehlberg, vet Cather­ine Charl­ton, and friends Claire Reynolds and Amy Griffiths.

An­other per­son who went above and be­yond was eques­trian in­struc­tor Paul Austin.

Mr Austin, who coached Sarah and her horses for two years, trav­elled all the way from his home in Queens­land this week­end to make Sarah’s “dream hap­pen”.

“Her dream was to get her horse Enigma to the Grand Na­tion­als, and that’s what we’re go­ing to do,” he said.

“She def­i­nitely would’ve made it there this year. Most kids her age haven’t got the ca­pa­bil­ity, ex­pe­ri­ence or pa­tience to pro­duce a show horse, but Sarah did a great job.

“She was a truly beau­ti­ful per­son and she never said no to any­thing, she al­ways took a chal­lenge on and would’ve given any­thing a try.”

Nigs will com­pete again to­day be­fore trav­el­ling to Mel­bourne to spend time with Ava in prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing com­pe­ti­tion sea­son.

The Grand Na­tion­als will be held at the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Eques­trian Cen­tre in New South Wales from March 24-30 next year.

‘‘She was taken way too soon, she still had so much to live for ... I have to be­lieve she was taken for her kind heart and pure soul. SARAH’S MUM BELINDA BELTZ

Pic­ture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

CLOSE: Belinda Beltz, left, con­grat­u­lates Ava Halloran, 16, who rode Sarah Beltz’s horse Just an Enigma to a win in Launce­s­ton.

Pic­tures: SUP­PLIED

MMEEMMOORRIIEESS:: SSaar­raahh RRoossee BBeellttzz,, wwi­it­thh hheerr bbeel­loovveedd hhoorrssee JJu­usstt aann EEn­ni­ig­gm­maa.. SSaar­raahh ddi­ieedd ffr­roomm mmeen­ni­in­ng­gooc­cooc­c­c­caall ddi­is­seeaassee iinn JJu­ul­lyy..

Pic­tures: NIKKI DAVIS JONES

FOR THE LOVE OF SARAH: Coach Paul Austin, of Queens­land, Belinda Beltz and Ava Halloran, 16, of Gee­long, with Just an Enigma — known as Nigs — who was Sarah Rose Beltz’s horse. Be­low: Ava rid­ing Nigs in the Show Horse Coun­cil Springpg Gala in Launce­s­ton.

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