The cream of New Zealand’s home-based eventers are converging on Auckland early next month for the Puhinui Horse Trials.
One of the pinnacle events on the New Zealand eventing calendar, the three-star competition is at Puhinui Reserve from December 6 to 8.
World number one ranked eventing rider Andrew Nicholson will be making a rare appearance. Nicholson has been on top of the eventing world for some time now and Kiwi eventing fans are delighted that he will be back, albeit briefly, at a New Zealand event – even if he isn’t riding.
Nicholson will be hot property with the eventing crowd who can join him on a cross country course walk and hear his take on how to tackle the challenge. Fans will also enjoy Nicholson having a “couch chat” interview with fellow Olympian Blyth Tait in the Fan Zone. Unfortunately Nicholson cannot attend the whole event, and will be flying back to his UK base late on Friday night, but he will be there to watch the first veterinary inspection on Thursday afternoon (December 5) and all day Friday for the dressage.
In an enforced change of plan, Jonathan “Jock” Paget will not be attending Puhinui as he is currently on provisional suspension under FEI rules, due to his horse having returned positive test at the Burghley Horse Trials. As a results he cannot compete or have any official role at any FEI or national level event, of which Puhinui is one. He was to have led a course walk at the event.
But there is a host of other stars at Puhinui. Other Olympians include Joe Meyer who is back from his Florida base to teach in NZ for a few weeks, Heelan Tompkins, who is competing in both the CIC2* and CIC*, along with Matthew Grayling who has a good chance of taking out the main class, the CIC3*. Grayling will also be competing against his daughter Charlotte in the CNC* – a rare sporting occurrence.
Clarke Johnstone, a member of the bronze medal-winning New Zealand team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG), will also be competing, having recently returned after being based for some years in the UK. He has a horse in the CIC2* and a young horse in a lower class, as does Annabel Wigley, who has recently relocated her top horses to UK in a bid for a spot in the Kiwi team at WEG and the Olympics. Rising star Lizzie Brown, fresh from a huge win in Europe at Boekelo, will also be at the event, although not riding.
Local riders are coming from all over New Zealand including a strong contingent from the South Island.
There are various classes scheduled at the Auckland event, from the challenging CIC3* to novice level.