Eventing at New Zealand’s Horse of the Year Show in Hastings this weekend is breaking new ground.
Long-time equestrian sponsors Bell Tea, which first became involved with the sport more than 30 years ago, are supporting the CIC3*, as well as the Bell Tea Super League, which runs throughout the year.
In addition to the 3* (Advanced) class, the CIC2* (Intermediate) class, sponsored by Land Rover, and the new addition to the programme, the CIC1* (Novice) class, sponsored by Rush Munro, will all be run under FEI (International) rules. The short format favoured by riders is being used for the first time, with the dressage and showjumping on Friday, and cross-country being the final phase on Saturday.
A record entry of 21 combinations from throughout the country will contest the title class, which is also the main selection trial for the NZ Trans-Tasman team to contest the long format Sydney CCI3* on 26-28 April. Sadly for squad member Annabel Wigley, a broken knee cap will prevent her from defending her 2012 title.
But she has offered the ride on her entry, NRM Enzo, to Matthew Grayling, who had his first ride on the horse at the Wellington Horse Trials at Paekakariki at the weekend. There are three other South Islanders entered, the current NZ Three-day Event champion, Emily Butcher on Dambala, veterinarian Sam Taylor on Leo Degas, and Katie Rankin on Time To Tango Too.
The current Bell Tea Super League leaders, Donna Smith on Just Chocolate, have drawn number one so will set the standard in the dressage and trail blaze the cross-country. Smith also has two other 3* rides, the promising Balmoral Tangolooma and Balmoral Sensation.
Young rider Ashleigh McKinstry and Pioneer Makokomiko, who are second in the Super League but have an unassailable lead in the Massey University Young Rider series, will contest their first HOY title. McKinstry hopes to earn senior team status, having been a member of the successful NZ Young Rider team several times.
Other squad members to watch are Dannie Lodder on Moochi, Bryce Newman on Bates Trademark, Simon Gordon on Fletch.com, and Monica Oakley on Fontain, who made a good start to the autumn season winning the Bell Tea Super League class at Puhinui a fortnight ago.
The CIC3* dressage starts at 7.30am on Friday, and the showjumping at 3.30pm, both in the premier arenas at the Showgrounds, while the cross-country will follow the 1* and 2* classes on Saturday afternoon at the Hawkes Bay Equestrian Park. Buses will run from the Showgrounds to the Equestrian Park on Saturday, with a big crowd expected, as Sir Mark Todd will be on the grounds, and will be interviewed over the PA system.