New Zealand’s World Cup jumping draws to a close tonight, with the final of the series at Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.
As well as the final the event at the Mills Reef Winery also features the Mills Reef Classic as the curtain-raiser.
The two classes have attracted some of the best names in New Zealand showjumping.
The 1.35m classic, which has a prize purse of $3000, and has attracted nearly 30 entries, starts at 4pm. All corporate tables for the event have long sold out, though entry to the event is free.
The world cup final will follow the classic. The field is small but all those in the running to win the series – and the right to represent New Zealand at the world final in Sweden in April – are starting.
Maurice Beatson leads the pack, and is flying in especially for the final, and will be riding a borrowed mount for the class. Beatson, a former series winner, will ride Josh Barker’s Highlander.
He is joined by three-time series winner Katie McVean, who notched New Zealand’s best-ever result in a world cup final with her sixth placing in 2011, and has Dunstan Zimorena G on the card. McVean hasn’t targeted the world cup series this season as her team are young, but they’ve certainly stepped up as the rounds have ticked by.
She won the world cup in Gisborne at the weekend aboard Dunstan Delilah and was third on Zimorena. The nine-year-old European import loves to be pushed, and the thrill of speed appears to bring out the scope in her.
McVean is nine points behind Beatson on the leaderboard. Right behind Beatson is farrier Bernard Denton who is certainly in touch with possible series victory. He and Horsesports Suzuki have won a final before, but never the series, and he would dearly love to add that honour to his trophy cabinet.
Also entered is young gun Luke Dee who with Ombudsman almost nudged McVean off the top of the podium in Gisborne. He’s one to watch, as is farrier Tim Myers who with Pick Me NZPH won the world cup round in Taupo just before Christmas.
Acclaimed course builder Louis Konicks from The Netherlands is designing the final.
With points and a half on the line at the Tauranga final, there is plenty of incentive for any of the top six to really pull one out of the bag. Picking series winners is a tricky affair, as points are worked out on the number of starters, and final tallies are only from their best four outings of the league.
The three star Tauranga Show moves to the racecourse for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With more than 400 combinations from all over the North Island entered in the show, there is plenty of top action to be seen.
Special guests on Friday morning will be Dan the Weatherman from TV One Breakfast, who will go live from the racecourse.
Each day has at least one main class, with Friday afternoon’s inaugural 1.3m horse sweepstake the one to be there for. All of the entry fees gathered for the class go back into the prize purse.
Saturday sees the seven-year-old series, young rider and 1.35m classes, with Sunday’s Bayleys Tauranga Horse Grand Prix set to go in the middle of the day and the pony grand prix later in the afternoon.
Points (after seven rounds – best four to count): Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 42 points; Bernard Denton (Feilding) 38, Ross Smith (Canterbury) 36, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) 33, Tim Myers (Hawera) 29, Luke Dee (Ocean Beach) 27, Lucy Akers (Opiki) 17, Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) 17, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) 16, Lisa Coupe (Kumeu) 9, Susie Hayward (Canterbury) 16.