It’s turning into a battle royale at the top of the POLi Payments FEI (NZ League) World Cup series with the penultimate round this weekend at the Taupo Christmas Classic. Leading the charge is the very in-form Tegan Fitzsimon on Windermere Cappuccino, with two wins and a third from their three starts.
The South Island combination won last season’s NZ World Cup series, in their debut at the elite level; nine-year-old Windermere Cappuccino is by Corofino II out of a Voltarie II mare.
Lying four points adrift of Tegan is last season’s series runner-up Brooke Edgecombe aboard her 12-year-old Holsteiner mare LT Holst Andrea, who is by Casall. These two won the series final last season and are hugely consistent, including taking out the series opener at Hastings in October.
Nineteen-year-old Briar Burnett-Grant shares the third spot on the leaderboard with veteran Robert Steele; both will be competing at Taupo too, on Fiber Fresh Veroana and LT Holst Bernadette respectively.
It is a star-stacked 18-strong field and with just the best four of five rounds to count, everyone will be chasing series points heading into the final early in the New Year.
One to certainly watch will be Auckland teenager Olivia Dalton, who is having her first World Cup start aboard her imported Belgian warmblood gelding Cil Dara Bonaparte
Former series winner Maurice Beatson has two rides on the start list in Mandalay Cove and Gold Locks, and other combinations to watch include Claudia Hay and Euro Sport Centavos, Samantha Morrision, who has returned from Australia with her 14-year-old Biarritz, and current Olympic Cup holders Emily Hayward and Belischi HM.
The winner of the New Zealand League has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the World Cup Final in the United States in April.
The World Cup class is part of a huge schedule at the four-day Christmas Classic show, being held at the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo, which has more than 850 horses entered.
Entry to the show is by a gold coin donation at the gate.