Kiwi equestrian sets sights on World Cup and beyond

April 7, 2009

by Diana Dobson

Hawkes Bay showjumper Anna Trent is on her way to Las Vegas for the FEI World Cup final - the biggest contest of her career so far.

Next week she starts in the final on her horse Cortaflex Muskateer NZPH, her confidence boosted after spending an afternoon with international course designer Leopoldo Palacios (Venezuela) who was in New Zealand for the Kelt Capital Horse of the Year Show recently.

"He will be the technical delegate there and has built final courses in the past, and assured me nothing would be bigger than what we jumped in the Bell Tea Olympic Cup (at KCHoY)," says Trent. "It's going to be nice to see a familiar face out there."

Muskateer, a Selle Francais horse by Cabdulla Du Tillard bred specifically for showjumping, is one of her team that she won the right to represent New Zealand World Cup series on, but only by a whisker. She won the series on count-back from Simon Wilson (Waipukurau).

Accompanying Trent to the US will be groom Adele White and six-year-old Cortaflex Paris Jewel NZPH.

Nine-year-old Muskateer was a little low after his shots but has recovered well.

"He was really tired in that second round of the Olympic Cup but he still tried his heart out," says Trent.

Trent placed third in both the Norwood Gold Cup and Lady Rider of the Year classes at the KCHoY, and seventh in the Olympic Cup.

She and Muskateer also qualified for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010 with their first round Olympic Cup efforts.

Trent figures he is now in fine form to start one of the most prestigious classes in the world ... it is also one of the toughest.

Historically New Zealand horses have struggled at World Cup finals, which are held indoors, with enormous courses ringed by very close spectators. There are very few indoor competitions held in New Zealand. The world final, which attracts around 45 riders - many Olympians and world champions, who qualify from 13 leagues from around the world. The US has won the FEI World Cup final seven times - more than any other nation.

But this year they'll all be facing some tough competition from two-time winner and defending champ Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Germany) and Shutterfly.

Trent flies into Los Angeles where she will be based before heading to Vegas. The 31st FEI World Cup final is being held from April 15-19 and is expected to attract more than 90,000 spectators.

"There's an indoor arena in LA where we are staying, so can train in there," says Trent. "I am well aware this is the biggest things Muskateer and I have done ... but I have a lot of confidence in this horse. I just hope I am in the right mental frame and not too much in awe of all around me."

A warm-up round will be held on Wednesday, April 15, followed by a speed class the next day and then a one round and jump off on the Friday. Those who don't make the top 20- will do a grand prix on Saturday, with the finalists competing on Sunday.

Trent has her hopes pinned on making that top 20.

"It is so hard to know. We've been training in an indoor arena in Napier in preparation. Muskateer is a horse that is never fazed. He jumped as a five and six year old indoors and was fine - hopefully he stays that calm."

Trent and Muskateer have been together since he was four and she says it is a huge advantage to have such a strong partnership with her horse.

Following Vegas, Trent and Muskateer will head to Spruce Meadows in Canada - the Holy Grail of international showjumping - where they will compete in several four star shows.

Trent plans to leave Muskateer in the US when she returns to New Zealand in July.

"I've got Kentucky (World Equestrian Games 2010) and London (Olympics 2012) very much in my sights," says Trent. "Making the World Cup final this year was the goal I set five years ago, so the ball is now rolling."

The rest is up to her, her horses and a little bit of Kiwi luck.