A cyclone forecast to hit New Zealand over the weekend has prompted the cancellation of showjumping’s Holy Grail competition in Hawke’s Bay.
Cyclone Lusi has put paid to the first leg of the Mitavite Trans Tasman Teams competition, which will now be decided in a winner-takes-all event at the Horse of the Year show.
“It is a huge disappointment, but the adverse weather conditions predicted over the weekend mean the event has had to be called off,” said organier Kevin Hansen. “This isn’t a decision we have taken lightly, but the health and safety of our riders and horses comes first.”
About 80 to 100mm of rain is expected to hit Northland by Saturday afternoon, spreading quickly southwards to total more than 100mm in Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne by Sunday morning.
In the upper South Island, Marlborough and Nelson look set to receive the most intense rainfall, with up to 170mm accumulating in the Nelson ranges from Saturday afternoon till noon Sunday.
Easterly gales will accompany the heavy rain, with severe gusts of 120km/h in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula, and 130km/h west of the Kaimai Range.
The Holy Grail on Sunday was to be the first glimpse New Zealanders would have of reigning World Champion showjumper Philippe Le Jeune, who is in the country for the Horse of the Year Show. He will be competing throughout next week’s show in all the main events.
Cyclone Lusi is forecast to be gone before HoY starts on Tuesday. More than 2600 horses and riders are expected in Hawke’s Bay to compete in 19 disciplines, in what is one of the biggest sporting celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere.