Anna Trent aims for Vegas World Cup final

January 21, 2009

by Diana Dobson

Anna Trent has Las Vegas on her mind as she heads into the final of the World Cup (NZ series) this weekend in Gisborne at the Larsen Sawmilling Equestrian Championships.

Trent (Hawke's Bay) has a slender two point lead over seasoned campaigner and former World Cup NZ series winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), and if she wins she has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the world final in Las Vegas in April.

But there is more than just series honours at stake - the top four riders over the eight rounds of the series will represent New Zealand in the tri-series competition to be held against teams from Japan and South Africa.

The first tri-series round is at the Kelt Capital Horse of the Year Show in March, followed by rounds in Japan and South Africa later in the year.

For the World Cup (NZ series) though, just the best four rounds count and it's tight at the top of the leader board.

Seventeen of New Zealand's best combinations line up for the last two rounds at the Gisborne show, including former winners Sue Thompson-Brown (Hastings) and Simon Wilson (Waipukurau), Olympian Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) and New Zealand representative Claire Wilson (Waipukurau).

But at this level, riders discount the rest of the field at their peril - also entered are Robert Steele (Hawera) who is always a danger, Catherine Cameron (Cambridge), Ike Unsworth (Tauranga), Karen Teague (Auckland), Carissa McCall (Auckland), Edward Bullock (Auckland), Paula Mussen (Pukekohe) and Bernard Denton (Gisborne).

Friday's round is a speed class, with Sunday's grand final calling for a jump-off for clear rounds only.

Trent has both Cortaflex Levitation NZPH and Cortaflex Muskateer NZPH entered in the two classes. The current Lady Rider of the Year is having a fantastic season, made all the better by Levitation's return to winning form.

The chestnut only returned to competition in December after nearly a year out with injury. He has come back in fine form, winning the last World Cup round at Woodhill Sands in Auckland.

"Levi (Levitation) is so special to me because he is the first one I have taken all the way," she says of the 10-year-old gelding who won is first World Cup round as an eight-year-old. "It is so exciting especially when you consider that this time last year it was questionable he would ever even jump again."

The 23-year-old is relishing in leading the series into the final. "It's just awesome."

Trent says her move to Hawke's Bay from Auckland was one of the best things she's ever done, but she's very busy with 16 horses in work.

"I would love to go to the final if we win the series and long term I'm looking to the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky (in 2010) and the Olympics in London (in 2012)."

A little more coy on his plans is former Olympian Beatson who has competed for New Zealand at a world cup final before.

"If we were lucky enough to win I'd wait until after the Horse of the Year Show before making any big plans for the final," says the Dannevirke farmer.

Both his World Cup mounts have been bred by him - his partner Sally Clark owns the nine-year-old steel grey Zibibbo while he owns the 14-year-old brown gelding My Gollywog.

"It is rewarding when they are horses you have bred yourself."

As understated as Beatson likes to be, he can't argue with his performances this year. He's got a commanding lead in the super league series for the season with his consistently good results all over the North Island.

"The horses are jumping quite well this year - some of them are starting to get a little experience behind them, so that makes it better. I guess you could say the season is ticking along all right."