NZ, Aust equestrian event leaders join forces

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From left, Event Pro’s Andrew and Kevin Hansen, Equitana General Manager Marketa Mensikova, and Rod Lockwood of Equine Productions.
From left, Event Pro’s Andrew and Kevin Hansen, Equitana General Manager Marketa Mensikova, and Rod Lockwood of Equine Productions.

The organisers of Australia’s Equitana and New Zealand’s Horse of the Year show are  getting together in a joint venture which aims to grow the equestrian event market and attract international tourism.

The first step for Kevin Hansen of Event Pro, which operates the Horse of the Year Show and Rod Lockwood of Equine Productions, which owns the Equitana equine exhibition concept, is to develop a five-year strategic plan working with key stakeholders.

“Together we plan to take these events to an exciting new level for riders, spectators and trade exhibitors. Both are world-class events, which inject millions of dollars into our respective economies,” Hansen said.

“We are combining our years’ of experience to build on each event’s individual success, strengths and key points of difference with great potential for future growth.”

Lockwood said there was a great opportunity to capture the growing interest in equestrian sport and the equine adventure tourism market, particularly out of China and the Middle East.

Farmlands Horse of the Year, hosted in Hawke’s Bay, is New Zealand’s largest equestrian event, injecting more than $12 million into the local economy. Last year the show launched a new Olympic-style cross-country event in a move to attract greater public interest, which was a huge success.

Equitana features a purpose-built indoor competition arena and combines this with industry exhibitors, shopping and education in Australia’s largest equine spectacle. It has operated the event bi-annually between Melbourne and Sydney and attracts about 50,000 attendees over four days, with nearly half of those from interstate and overseas.

Horse of the Year board chairman Cynthia Bowers sees the move as positive. ‘’We congratulate Kevin and Rod and we are in no doubt that this additional expertise will be good for Horse of the Year’’.

Through the partnership with Event Pro, Lockwood said one of the advantages for Horse of the Year would be attracting more international riders and spectators.

“The growing market in equine education is a significant part of Equitana and this would also add another dimension to HOY,” he said.

“For us Event Pro’s experience and the respected industry relationships and reputation that Kevin has built will be invaluable. HOY and Equitana complement each other very well, as do the event teams we have assembled. Our events showcase the best of the New Zealand and Australian equine industry and we will leverage our combined knowledge to grow international visitation.”

Lockwood and Equitana’s General Manager Marketa Mensikova met with Hansen and Event Pro’s General Manager Andrew Hansen to officially sign the partnership agreement late last month.

“We are very excited about the opportunities this joint venture will develop and we want to ensure the equine industry benefits as well,” Lockwood said.

Both Lockwood and Mensikova said they are looking forward to returning to Hawke’s Bay to attend the Horse of the Year Show in Hastings next March.

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