The first Super League competition of the autumn eventing season will be contested at the Puhinui Horse Trials this weekend, at Auckland’s Puhinui Reserve, with a number of riders stepping up to three-star level for the first time, resulting in a large class of 18 in the Honda CIC3*, including members of last year’s successful New Zealand Oceania team.
Virginia Thompson, Kaukapakapa, who is hoping to join the band of Kiwis based in Britain, has entered her team horse, Star Nouveau, as well as Man of Honour, who will be making his three-star debut.
Fellow team member Samantha Felton, from Matangi, will ride Ricker Ridge Escada, but has elected to start Ricker Ridge Rui, who currently lies fifth in the League, in the 2* class.
Former top international Heelan Tompkins, from Tirau, now the mother of two youngsters, will make her return to three-star eventing on her promising grey Snow Leopard, who has been out competing with Jock Paget while Heelan has been out of action. Veteran international Matthew Grayling, New Plymouth, also returns to three-star with NRM Trudeau, the horse having his first start at this level.
Three members of the 2017 New Zealand Young Rider Oceania team are also contesting this top class: Abigail Long, from Levin, on the experienced Enzo, Jackson Bovill, Matangi, on his big mare Visionnaire, and Renee Faulkner, Papakura, on Rubinstar HH, the horse bred to do dressage but who prefers to jump.
Diane Gilder returns to this level with her handsome Australian thoroughbred Your Attorney, after time out to start a new business, while Jessica Woods rides her recently purchased Australian horse Just de Manzana for the first time at this level.
Donna Edwards-Smith, Te Kauwhata, has both DSE Tangolooma and DSE Cluny entered, with Cluny currently holding sixth place in the Super League standings. Abby Lawrence, Te Puke, rides Charlton Yamani, and Ashleigh McKinstry, Taumarunui, Pioneer Brass Monkey, both horses showing potential coming through the grades.
The field is completed by three ambitious young riders, Sophie Alexander on World Famous, Jeffrey Amon on My Silver Lining, and Gemma Hampson on the next crowd favourite, the little pinto mare Pintado Prima Rosa, the smallest horse with the biggest heart and the tallest rider!
Dressage and show jumping take place on Saturday, with the cross-country on Sunday. Tich Massey’s cross-country course at this iconic venue is always inviting for the start of the season, and the going should be forgiving after so much recent rain.
Live scoring is available on www.equestrianentries.co.nz