NZ’s Horse of the Year show a record-breaker

hoyBringing the cross-country to the spectators at New Zealand’s 2014 NRM Horse of the Year Show was one of the ingredients that led to record-breaking attendances at the Hastings event last week.

More than 83,000 people flooded through the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds gates over the six days, meaning an extra 8500 tickets were sold this year.

“The cross country has a lot to do with those improved figures,” said HoY show director Kevin Hansen.

He made the controversial call to move last Saturday’s cross country from the Hawke’s Bay Equestrian Park to the showgrounds. There were plenty of naysayer, but People’s Day drew nearly 20,000 to the showgrounds to be part of the excitement. Riders were full of praise for the course and the buzz it created at the grounds was palpable.

“Moving the cross-country seems to be a huge success,” Hansen said. “There were a couple of small things I wasn’t happy with – like the lack of sound at the Waikoko Gardens – but largely it was a huge success. Looks like we will have to do it again!”

He was grateful for the expertise, professionalism and assistance of technical delegate Andy Bowles and course designer John Nicholson.

But there were also many other highlights too, including Mark Todd’s return to New Zealand, the visit of reigning World Champion showjumper Philippe Le Jeune, and more.

That included showjumper Katie McVean notching her fifth JB Olympic Cup victory for the Horse of the Year Title. Among her prize package is an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in a Chinese World Cup event later this month.

Belgian rider Philippe Le Jeune was a also big hit with the riders and spectators, and told the packed grandstand at the JB Olympic Cup prizegiving that he would like to return.

And Todd also said he thoroughly enjoyed his visit – the second in consecutive years.

Hansen is hopeful the visiting delegation of riders, coaches and businesspeople from China will become a regular fixture at the show.

The Taste the Bay Twilight Market turned the Land-Rover Premier Arena into a bustling city square, with thousands enjoying local produce and food, among other delicacies.

Event Freak’s live streaming also proved popular, with more than 2500 people from countries including Australia, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, the Cook Islands, and Denmark registered to watch five days of competition. Saturday’s cross country was the most popular with nearly 5500 hits. Total hits over the show tallied nearly 16,000.

“It’s always great to sit back at the end of the week and look back on a tremendous show, and this one really is one of the best, but we are always looking to make it better next time,” Hansen said.

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