For the first time in many people’s memory, there were horses on Hagley Park in the middle of Christchurch.
Inspired by the Global Champions Tour events in the middle of Monaco and Paris, Lisa Tennekoon had the idea that Hagley Park would be an ideal venue for showcasing show jumping in Christchurch. Of course there was a lot of bureaucracy and red tape to get through, but eventually on a lovely Friday night, Christchurch hosted two show jumping classes in its beloved Hagley Park.
Within walking distance of the city centre, the horses competed in a 1.25m speed class, followed by the ponies over a 1.15 class. Roger Laplanche built the course, and while it wasn’t huge in show jumping terms, it set up a great competition and the crowd loved it.
Harris Feast was the commanding winner of the horses to claim the $1,000 prize on Double J Bouncer – which he donated back to the Breast Cancer Foundation! He went at a great clip, and executed some cheeky corners, to take the lead off one of the early competitors, Jaimee Bird on Wenrose Vertigo, who had seemed unbeatable for some time.
Rose Alfeld’s My Supa Nova must have thought he was in a training run, jumping well below what he normally tackles, but had to settle for third place, although Rose did win the McMillan’s prize for best presented and turned out.
The ponies were the class entertainers, with the young riders really going for it. Rosa Buist-Brown was the first competitor, and Junior Disco really motored, jumping clear. It was up to the others to beat her, and no-one could do it! Second-to-go Grace Manera got the closest on her coloured pony Rednalhgih Cowan.
Pony of the Year title-holder, Midnight Glow, looked like he was going to win this title too with Steffi Whittaker, but the clock said differently, and they had to settle for third place. In a touching gesture, Steffi came back after the prize-giving to donate her prize-money to the Breast Cancer charity that the event was supporting. She and Harry were not the only riders to donate their prize money back, so too did Olivia Adams and Rohan Tennekoon.
Grace Manera won the McMillan’s prize for best turned-out and presented pony.
In between the two classes, Jake Bailey gave an inspiring speech about his journey through cancer, and bought a tear to many an eye. You can see his speech from the Christchurch Boys’ High prize-giving on this link. Equally as inspiring was brave Ali Orange’s speech about her experience surviving breast cancer and how horses had helped her through it.
Lisa Tennekoon was delighted that it all turned out well and provided entertainment that was enjoyed by many. “This was the Global Champions Tour on a budget,” she said, recalling the struggle to get the event to happen. “We went to Europe and saw the show jumping in a number of cities, Monaco, Paris and in Portugal. In Paris, they jumped right near the Eiffel Tower. It got me thinking what a great venue we have here in Christchurch.”
But in implementing any great idea, there is a lot of work involved. It took some time to get the Council on board but there was some great support from a couple of councillors. Of course health and safety was important, and the arena was enclosed by a good fence, in case a horse decided to head to the city centre (which none even looked like doing). It meant spectators had to set up outside this, but didn’t detract or deter a good crowd from gathering and there were a number of food vendors on hand. Pre-sold VIP tickets provided the financial base to cover the costs and were well supported. Those who had tickets were treated to some great hospitality, and great views of the action.
Lisa hopes that the event can happen again next season, and there is talk of holding a similar event in Queenstown early next year, which would be an exciting addition to the calendar.
The show jumping continues out at the National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island for the Canterbury Championships.
1st Harry Feast on Double J Bouncer
2nd Jaimee Bird on Wenrose Vertigo
3rd Rose Alfeld on My Super Nova
4th Jack Ford on Strictly NZPH
5th Todd Magner on Awatuna Jonesy
6th Kirsty Sharapoff on Shoot The Breeze
1st Rosa Buist-Brown on Junior Disco
2nd Grace Manera on Renalhgih Cowan
3rd Steffi Whittaker on Moonlight Glow
4th Olivia Adams on Mr Black Magic
5th Rohan Tennakoon on Mangakaroa Carbon Copy
6th Holly Crean on Ellen Vanin Untouchable