April 25, 2008

2007 1-star winner Larissa Srhoy and Starburst.

Clarke Johnstone and 45 South will be among the favourites this weekend.
© Annie Studholme

Eventing will take centre stage in Christchurch early next month with the South Island's leading riders converging on the Garden City for the prestigious South Island Three Day Event, from May 1-4.

Preparations are nearly complete for the event which will again be staged at the Canterbury Park Agricultural Centre, just 20 minutes from the centre of Christchurch. The event is still in its infancy but organizers have been pleased with the large entries received, especially those from as far afield as Auckland.

The three day competition has attracted the best event riders from around the South Island, and from across the strait, to compete for overall championships honours.

Thanks to strong sponsorship from Sheds NZ, Devi Heating Systems, Strategic Property Concepts, Tavern Harewood, The Guthrey Centre and PacificVet, the event will run a CCI 2**, CIC 1*, Pre Novice, Training, 4-6 year old Training, and added to the programme for this year, a Pre Training.

Eventing Canterbury is pleased to once again to have the services of internationally renowned Auckland-based course designer Tich Massey for the CCI 2* and 1* tracks. Massey, who is best known as the course designer for Puhinui, has many new ideas to clearly stamp his mark on the cross-country course which was originally designed by Hamish Cameron. He came on board last year, with riders pleased with the changes.

Canterbury-based course designer Nick Pyke will be in charge of designing the Pre Novice, Training and Pre Training, with Tauranga's Bing Allen overseeing as Technical Delegate for the event assisted by Chris Buckley.

President of the ground jury is Australian international dressage judge Polly Huntington, who will team up with South Canterbury's Bill Phiskie. Effie Deans and Stuart Bishell will form the ground jury for the Pre Novice, Training and Pre Training.

The showjumping courses are this year to be designed by Jeff Bryant.

The event will also mark the culmination of the Rangiora Veterinary Centre Pre Novice, Training and Pre Training Accumulator series which has been running during the autumn.

Organisers have been pleased with the standard of entries received. The CCI 1* class is especially strong, with seasoned campaigners such as Clarke Johnston on 45 South, Incognito, and Orient Express, and top North Island combination of Jonathan Paget on Clifton Pinot, coming up against strong Canterbury contenders such as Brent Jury riding S.E. Big and Traverse, and Alice Montgomery on Tanquery.

Competition kicks off on Thursday in the main arena at 12pm, when the South Island's top young horses will contest the Saddlery Barn's Young Event Horse Championship class.

Friday will see the formal part of the three day event begin with the dressage phase taking place from 12pm in the Main arena; exciting cross country action will be taking place from 10am on Saturday throughout the Canterbury Park area, and the Championships will conclude on the Sunday, with the final Show jumping being contested in the main arena from 9am.