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NZ Horse of the Year show kicks off next week

March 11, 2010

In just under a week's time the first of thousands of hooves will step foot in the main arena at the 2010 Kelt Capital Horse of the Year Show and Kevin Hansen will be a happy man.

For the show director, his key crew and a team of more than 450 volunteers, that moment means a tireless year of work and planning will have all come to fruition.

This year's show in Hastings is no different. It will be another huge effort, but one with significant highlights.

Heroes from yesteryear will be honoured with the inaugural Hall of Fame gala dinner on Thursday night, where the first five inductees will be announced - just who they are is a closely guarded secret.

The Aussies are coming to do battle with the Kiwis for the inaugural Nations Cup competition, a young rider team is heading across the ditch to try and defend the Trans Tasman Trophy, there is a trial to find New Zealand's Youth Olympic representative, the nation's best Pony Club showjumping team will be found, and of course, the best will line up to win the Bell Tea Olympic Cup as showjumper of the year.

"So many highlights and so hard to choose just one," says Hansen.

He'll have nearly 2600 combinations competing in 17 disciplines in 28 arenas over six days from Tuesday (March 16) through to Sunday when the Olympic Cup is decided.

Reigning champ Peter McMahon (Australia) will not be here to defend the crown, but there are plenty with their hands up and out, ready to hoist the historic cup on high and pocket their share of the $200,000 prize purse.

Olympic course builder Leopoldo Palacios (Venezuela) is back to design the best showjumping courses to challenge the riders and entrance those watching.

Eventing is starring alongside showjumping and dressage this year as one of the top three disciplines and a top-class field has been attracted to the three star division. John Nicholson, brother of Olympian Andrew, will design the cross-country course - something riders and spectators alike look forward to.

Dressage has some incredibly exciting combinations entered in the upper echelon of the discipline.

Endurance will take its record numbers of competitors through some stunning Hawke's Bay wine country.

There are plenty of other exciting events on the social side of things, too, with the Friday Night Extravaganza, the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter Cocktail Party, and the Saturday night variety show.

"The Horse of the Year Show is a celebration of all things equestrian," says Hansen. "We have a strong belief in ensuring our champs of tomorrow get just as much a chance at this show as our stars of today. We love that we can include so many disciplines in one place, and that makes this show something truly special on so many levels."

The show, which runs from March 16-21, is worth an estimated $12 million to the Hawke's Bay economy and will attract around 70,000 spectators over the six days.



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