The eventing season is really starting to get into action here in New Zealand. We’ve got competitions in both the North and South Islands, and then of course there’s Blenheim over in the UK, where many of the superstars will be competing. This is also the last leg of the lucrative Event Rider Masters series.
Taupo is the venue for the “Early Season ODE” on Sunday and there are just over 200 horses entered. Classes range from the Wairakei Resort Open CNC 105cm, the Total Solutions 105 (two divisions) the Taupo Veterinary Centre CNC 95 (three divisions) down to another three divisions of Reyna Equestrian CNC 80.
There will be some new combinations out, including Maddy Crowe on the lovely Waitangi Pinterest and Calla Toyne on Coleraine Coaltown. Experienced riders are taking their young horses out too: Amanda Pottinger has three in, and Abby Lawrence has a couple.
Denise Rushbrooke is going to be busy with four, and we see there is even an entry from Dave Sutton, the Event Director of Puhinui, who is riding in the 80cm class. His daughter Olivia is also competing. Amanda Illston has two in, and it’s good to see her back competing after the birth of her second child: she will be kept very fully occupied with the two kids, Poppy’s pony and her own two horses! And our editor has finally stepped away from her computer: Rowan Dixon is heading to Taupo with two horses.
We’ll bring you a report and photos, hope the weather holds!
Talking of weather, it’s cold down in the South Island at the moment but that isn’t stopping the keen eventers from their activities. The forecast is for an improvement by the weekend, so fingers crossed! The dressage and show jumping will be held at McLeans Island on Saturday and then it is out to Eyreton Pony Club near Rangiora for the cross-country on Sunday. The course that was used for the NZPC Eventing Championships will be used for this event, and will be a nice change from using all those jumps at McLeans once again. Richard Crowe is the course designer.
There is a CNC2* plus classes down to CNC65, so something for all levels, and entries are good: 137 riders and 186 horses. Nicola Barringer once again brings a big team, with five entered and Anna Poole also has five in. Claudia Wilson has “only” four. A couple of stars are out too: Giles Gormack is giving Lucero a spin, Brent Jury has SE Hedging entered and Shoot the Breeze will be keen to get cracking at the course, ridden by Kirsty Sharapoff.
It will be good to see Larissa Srhoy out competing again. She had an enforced rest for a large part of last season after breaking her leg.
It will be quite the family affair here too. Kirk and Todd Magner each have two horses entered, and the Rowley family will be there in force, with Amalia and Benjamin both with two horses as well. Brothers Aidan and Clayton Takuira-Mita and their mum Sharne are all coming up from Oamaru to compete.
We’ll be there to cover the cross-country action.
New Style Prize
Eventing New Zealand has come up with an innovative prize which is up for grabs this weekend. The Cross-Country Style Prize will be awarded at 1.05m level and below, and is open to riders who are not categorised under the FEI ranking system.
Judges will be looking for good rhythm and speed, with correct setting up appropriate to the type of fence to be jumped. Final cross-country times will also be checked to ensure that the winner is near the optimum time, not several minutes under.
Blenheim International Horse Trials
This year Blenheim Palace is staging three international classes: the principal CCI3*, the prestigious CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses, and the inaugural finale of the new Event Rider Masters series. The first horse inspection has been completed, and one CCI3* combination – Roo Fox and Fleet Street – was sent to the holding box and then withdrew.
Dressage in the CCI3* starts overnight (NZ Time) with Andrew Nicholson and Teseo first up, while Ludwig Svennerstal and Balham Mist are the first pair into the arena for the CIC3*.
There are a lot of Kiwi stars in the Event Rider Masters final class. Tim Price has Xavier Faer, Sir Mark Todd rides Leonidas, Jonelle Price is on Cloud Dancer, Blyth Tait has Xanthus and Jock Paget will ride Clifton Signature. Caroline Powell has Spice Sensation with Dan Jocelyn on Phoenix and Jesse Campbell on Kaapachino. Jonelle is the only Kiwi who can possibly top the rankings in this final event to take out the big prize money, and is currently on 71 points, with the leader, Paul Tapner, on 93. Gemma Tattersall (92) and Oliver Townend (74) are also in front of her at the moment. Blyth and Jesse are the next best Kiwis on the ERM rankings, in 13th and 14th places on 33 and 32 points.
In the CCI3*, Lizzie Green (nee Brown) has Havanna Van’t Castanaehof, Sir Mark Todd will be riding Obos Colombus, Tim has Zebedee and Caroline has Sinatra Frank Baby. We have to go back to 1991 to find a Kiwi victor in this class: Andrew won it then on Park Grove. Clark Montgomery from the USA won it last year on Loughan Glen.
In the CIC3* for eight- and nine-year olds, Jonelle is back to defend her title but this time with Ascona M. She won the class in 2014 on Faerie Dianimo, and again in 2015 on Cloud Dancer, so hopefully she can make it a three-peat! However, there are plenty of others out to take the win, including Andrew with Swallow Springs and Urma BK, Tim on Danturano K, Jock on Angus Blue and Sir Mark with Kiltubrid Rhapsody, who he rode to a win last month at Wellington in Hampshire.
All three phases of the feature CCI3* class – dressage, cross-country and show jumping – and the cross-country section of the prestigious CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-old horses will be available to watch live on the event’s website, www.blenheimhorse.co.uk.
There will also be a catch-up stream on which viewers can watch the bits they missed – or the bits they enjoyed the most again – after the event. There will be expert commentary, and the viewing experience will be enhanced by the use of graphics.
Libby Law will be there to capture the action and we will bring you a full report.
So, whether it is awful weather, or a beautiful weekend, there is eventing action to be enjoyed. Perhaps you might want to fence-judge – there are always plenty of opportunities, fence judges are vital! Otherwise, sit back and enjoy!