Top show jumping action will return to Ashburton this weekend for the first South Island event of the New Year.
The Pryde’s Easifeed Ashburton Area Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) 1* Jumping and Showhunter Show has attracted strong fields across all levels with riders eager to get the autumn season under way following the Christmas break.
The Ashburton Toyata Grand Prix may well come down to a battle of the boys as local rider Susie Hayward and her stallion Andretti look to strengthen their lead in the National One Star Grand Prix series with a smart performance.
Despite the absence of recent Bayer FEI World Cup series fifth round winner Ross Smith and stallion Quite Cassini in early January, Hayward and Andretti will need to bring their A-game though, facing a stiff line-up of jumpers which includes Mosgiel’s Claudia Hay with her two stallions Euro Sport Heartbreaker and Euro Sport Centavos. Amongst the 12-strong field are the ever-consistent Brittany Whelan on George Jetson, Kate Cavanagh on Vermont, and Invercargill’s Nicole White on Cricklewood Ace, winners of the Grand Prix at Southland just prior to Christmas.
The Rainer Irrigation Pony Grand Prix has also attracted a strong line-up. While the locals have the advantage in terms of numbers with Kimberley Bird starting both World Whisper and Brenwood Stevie James, Jamiee Bird with Showtym Image, Lucinda Askin with Buckle Up, and Emma Waite with Spring Brooke, the in-form Christchurch youngster Steffi Whittaker on Moonlight Glow will be out to spoil the local’s party. Whittaker and Moonlight Glow have been in dynamic form so far this season with four Grand Prix wins to their credit.
Competition will also be tight in both the KiwiSpan Junior and Caledonian Amateur classes, and the age group series classes, as riders fight it out for vital points on the national series leaderboards heading into the business end of the season.
The show has three full rings of jumping and a show hunter ring in operation over both days catering to riders of all levels jumping from 65cm right through to Grand Prix. Jumping action starts at 8.30am. Entry to the grounds is free.