Kiwis upbeat after World Cup performance

April 19, 2009

The sole New Zealand combination at the FEI World Cup showjumping finals in Las Vegas this weekend has bowed out of the competition but her team remains upbeat about the performance.

Anna Trent and Cortaflex Muskateer NZPH failed to fire in the first round, ending up third last with 20 faults in the 44-strong competition. In the second contest, the pair dropped three rails to place 36th of 40 finishers. Two riders were eliminated, including Australian Harley Brown who fell from Cassiato.

Riders who did not make the top 29 to start in the overall final had a last chance, in the $75,000 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which was won by Rich Fellers from the USA riding Flexible. Trent and Muskateer finished 16th with eight faults from 21 finishers.

Trent said the whole experience had been "just crazy".

"It's all so exciting. Red (Muskateer) tonight showed his true colours - he is so talented and went out there and handled it all amazingly well."

She wasn't fazed to be second to go in the big class, having walked the course with US-based Kiwi Butch Thomas.

"We had a plan and I stuck to it. That course was massive - technical, and I have to say I was suitably nervous to be even walking such a technical course."

Determined not to let the final be overwhelming, Trent says it was most definitely awe inspiring.

"We are stabled next to (Brazilian) Rodrigo Pessoa (three time consecutive World Cup winner), and I walked the course surrounded by the best in the world. This is most definitely where I want to be. The whole experience has been amazing."

There was a big Kiwi contingent ringside - all wearing the trade-mark black of Trent's sponsor New Zealand Performance Horses - to urge the combination on.

Former All Black captain David Kirk - who with his wife Brigit, Warwick and Juliette Hansen and Trent are co-owners in Muskateer - felt it marked a new era for New Zealand purpose bred showjumpers.

"This is a real breakthrough," says Kirk, describing it as validation of NZPH's breeding methods. "It shows we are equal to the best in the world. It was a bit of an uncertain coming here - this is the crème de la crème of the best horses and riders from all over the world ... their horses are bred for it.

"Without taking anything away from those who have come here before (to represent New Zealand at the world final) but many haven't been able to handle it. The Las Vegas environment is electric - just 15 minutes before Anna came out there were fireworks and all sorts going on."

Muskateer, a chestnut Selle Francais by Cabdulla Du Tillard, was bred by NZPH, and is reckoned to be the only horse bred outside Europe or North America in the class, and one of two nine-year-olds in the field, making them the youngest, while 23-year-old Trent was the second youngest rider to start.

"Anna's ride tonight was incredible - she is here against the best in the world and has definitely showed she has what it takes," Kirk said.

The field included the likes of defending champ Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Germany), McLain Ward (United States), Bezzie Madden (United States), Richard Spooner (United States), Michael Whitaker (Great Britain), Ian Millar (Canada), Ludger Beerbaum (Germany) and so many more. The world final, which attracts around 45 riders - many Olympians and world champions, who qualify from 13 leagues from around the world.

"It was inspiring," said New Zealand international course designer Kevin Hansen. "It was a huge course and they were just amazing."