Three Australian-based riders have confirmed their intention to compete in the opening round of the 2011 FEI World Cup Eventing Series at Kihikihi next month.
Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express are among the starters at next month's World Cup eventing round at Kihikihi.
The prize pool of $37,500 at the Kihikihi International Horse Trials, from April 8 to 10, has attracted Australian starters for the third year running, but the numbers at this year's event are unprecedented.
"We are very excited to have Australian riders back at Kihikihi again this year," said event president Bruce Bason. "It gives depth to the competition and provides a great event for spectators. We are hoping that this will be the first of a strong 2011 World Cup series."
Australian riders making the trip are Shane Rose, Chris Burton and Kiwi ex-pat Laura Wallace who is now based in Australia.
Olympic silver medalist Shane Rose will be making his second trip to Kihikihi but this time with Taurus, a nine-year-old Australian warmblood by Aaries. The horse was second at the prestigious Lakes and Craters CCI3* and is being aimed at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Chris Burton will be bringing his 2010 WEG mount Holstein Park Lailani. Together they won the Sydney World Cup round in 2010, snatching victory from event favourite Megan Jones and Kirby Park Irish Jester.
Laura Wallace will be riding Sugoi, recently purchased from New Zealand Olympian Heelan Tompkins. The horse was part of the New Zealand team at the Beijing Olympic Games and is familiar with Kihikihi, having previously won the World Cup class with Tompkins.
The Australians will come head-to-head with some strong opposition from New Zealand riders. Lizzie Brown, fresh from winning the Horse of the Year CIC3*, will be looking to stamp her mark on the competition aboard the talented Henton Attorney General. Clarke Johnstone will also be looking for a good run on his WEG mount, Orient Express, before leaving to campaign in the Northern hemisphere. Other previous World Cup winners, including Matthew Grayling and Heelan Tompkins, will also be seeking to nail the large first prize.
As well as the FEI World Cup Eventing class, the Kihikihi International Horse Trial will also be running a CIC 2-star class and several national classes.