Maurice Beatson and Katie McVean will start as hot favourites in the opening round of the World Cup New Zealand showjumping series in Hawke's Bay tomorrow.
Maurice Beatson, pictured on Jedi Warrior during his US campaign last year. © Kenneth Kraus/phelpsSports.com
Beatson and McVean went head-to-head in the Gisborne grand prix
at the weekend with the elder statesman of showjumping winning aboard his home-bred horse My Gollywog.
My Gollywog is on the comeback trail after a season out with injury, and both McVean and Beatson showed they're hungry for victory this season.
Defending New Zealand World Cup champ McVean will start Daffodil with whom she did plenty of winning in the series last season. McVean went on to represent New Zealand at the World Cup final in Germany where she finished sixth overall - the best any Kiwi has ever done.
She's also lining up aboard Zasjany, who is looking very much like a star in the making.
There'll be plenty of interest in first-time starters Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) on Witheze and Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on Billistic. McIntosh is one of New Zealand's best performed off-shore showjumpers and was also in the team at World Championships last year. She's since moved back to New Zealand, must to the delight of many, and is putting a new team together.
Edgecombe is a former World Cup NZ series winner and making a quiet re-entry to top level competition on this talented coloured horse.
Lady Rider of the Year Lucy Akers and Tinapai put in a strong late run last season to finish third overall, while Phillip Steiner and Annandale Online NZPH, who notched two wins from six starts last series, is also in the mix.
Former series winner Simon Wilson and Swinger are likely starters, but he's downplaying their involvement this year.
Flying up the ranks is Tess Williams and Craighaven Nitro, while Paula Mussen and Meersbrooke Flintstone is also entered and never one to discount.
Course designer Kevin Hansen is looking forward to what promises to be an interesting and exciting class, which is set to go on Friday afternoon.
The series runs over seven rounds with the best five counting. The victor has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the prestigious World Cup final to be held in 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands in April.