The best of New Zealand show jumpers will line up for the opening round of the Country TV World Cup (NZ) Premier League at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show in Hastings on Friday, with a near-record number of starters.
There are 21 entries in all, including former series’ winners Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek), Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) and Simon Wilson (Waipukurau), and there’ll be lots of interest in the baby of the field, 18-year-old Georgia Massie of Dannevirke.
It’s a big move up for the teen, but she says her mind was made up after jumping Larinium LS in the Norwood Gold Cup at the Horse of the Year Show in March. “He jumped so well there. I will see how things go tomorrow before I make any big plans for the rest of the season.”
Georgia knows that jumping the jumps is only half the game. “What goes on in your head is the biggest challenge with a class like this,” she says. “I practise de-stressing myself before big classes.”
She is trained by her big brother Logan, and ‘hugely grateful’ for the support of her family when it comes to chasing her equestrian dreams.
Five-time series winner Katie Laurie has her stunning grey stallion Dunstan Casebrooke Lomond and Dunstan On The Point Eve entered. Katie won the series last year and is New Zealand’s best-performed finisher at the a World Cup final with her sixth equal in Sweden in 2011 aboard Dunstan Delphi.
Her meticulous preparation for this year’s opening round included travelling some 1452 kilometres back and forth between Gisborne and Mystery Creek last weekend to ensure Lomond had a good run in an arena similar to the Hawke’s Bay grounds. Eve had her lead-up at Foxton, a little earlier, and Katie is confident both will head into the class primed and ready.
Helen McNaught-McFarlane (Taupo) and her quirky grey Carnutelabryere have been head-to-head with Katie over the past two seasons, and won the 2015-16 final but finished second in the series.
“The World Cup series is certainly our priority for the season,” Helen says. “Roger Laplanche is a great course builder and while I’m not expecting to push everyone too hard for the opening round, I am sure it will be strong enough.” Carnutelabryere has come back into work well for the new season, and, says Helen, “He is looking the best ever, I think.”
Maurice Beatson, who represented New Zealand in a World Cup Final, has two on the card with Conyers and Schimmel Warrior, both of whom have plenty of mileage at top level. Conyers was actually brought to New Zealand as a four-year-old dressage horse, but his father Concorde’s jumping lines proved too strong and he made the switch.
Simon Wilson brings McMillans Midway Smooth Dude out for his first World Cup start. “I am happy with him at the moment but you never know how things are going to go when you move up another level,” says Simon. “It is a big test, that next step, and will be a tough ask.”
Also entered are Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) aboard Biarritz, husband and wife Brooke and Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Aunty Annette and Ultra Blue NZPH respectively, Lily Tootill (Auckland) and Ulysses NZPH, Rachel Malcolm (Cambridge) on Equador MVNZ, Daniel Blundell (Ocean Beach) on Lavello, Mathew Dickey (Oakura) on Quango, Tess Clark (Auckland) on Sinatra II, Sam Peters (Whangarei) on Zabambi and Lucy Fell (Opiki) on Tinapai.
The New Zealand league runs over six rounds, with the best four to count for each rider.
The next two rounds will be held indoors, at Mystery Creek (November 4-6), and Feilding (December 2-3). Competition then moves back outdoors for Taupo (December 15-17) and Dannevirke (January 6-8) with the grand final at Waitemata (January 14-15).
The winner of the New Zealand league has the opportunity to represent the country at the World Cup Final in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, from March 29-April 1, 2017.