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|0/01/2011 10:03:37 a.m.|
New Zealand's best showjumping combinations are heading to Gisborne this weekend for the 2011 Larsen Sawmilling Equestrian Championships.
Centrepiece of the three star three day show, which starts on Friday, is the seventh round of the New Zealand World Cup qualifying series. For the past four years Gisborne has played host to the final of this prestigious series but this year that will be held in Tauranga in early February.
New Zealand World Equestrian Games representatives Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) and Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) are both entered in the Sunday afternoon class.
McVean has a bolt-away lead on the field and would have to have a disastrous run in the remainder three classes of the series to be knocked from her perch. She has entered both her WEG horse Dunstan Delphi, who is only just back competing in New Zealand, and Dunstan Daffodil, who has more than risen to the occasion in the absence of her half-sister.
But they'll face stiff competition from Aussie raider Billy Raymont, who finished second in the Australian World Cup series and is back in New Zealand with his top horse Stardom along with Nicalette NZPH. Raymont and Stardom finished second in last weekend's World Cup round at Woodhill Sands.
While in New Zealand he is based with the New Zealand Performance Horse team at Ocean Beach in Hawke's Bay.
Gisborne hopes Tess Williams aboard Alltech Craighaven Nitro, Bernard Denton on Suzuki and Adrian Bruce on Witheze are also entered. Denton is the best placed of the locals on the leaderboard, sitting in fourth equal spot on 24 points – to McVean's 57.
Last week's winner Phillip Steiner (Tauranga), who is sitting in third spot on 32 points, is also entered with Annandale Online NZPH.
Thirteen have entered the class which is scheduled to go at around 3pm on Sunday and will have its course designed by John Vallance (Australia) who has built all round the world, including the Youth Olympics in Sydney. He's in New Zealand to build at the New Zealand Young Horse Show next weekend and the World Cup series final in Tauranga.
All the national series will be contested in Gisborne, and as the season draws to a close anyone whose serious about taking titles will be here. The finals are set down for early March in Hawera.
Danielle Maurer (Auckland) has an unassailable lead in the young rider series, but things are a lot closer in the pony grand prix which includes local Luke Dee. Sixteen are entered in the pony grand prix including series leader Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and second placed Melanie Weal (Te Awamutu).
The one star grand prix has attracted 22 entries and features all the up and comers of New Zealand showjumping. Tess Williams (Gisborne) is starting Walnut Brown, who has been dogged by injury, Adrian Bruce (Gisborne) is entered on the imported stallion Corofino, Kirsten McLeod (Gisborne) is in on NZ Joseph and Melissa McBreen (Gisborne) is coming home from Auckland to compete aboard Gorgeous George.
Show committee member Kaye Williams describes it as one of the most hotly contested classes of the champs.
Show hunter also has its day at the champs and has attracted top entries. All show hunter classes are being held in the indoor arena which could be a lucky thing with a decidedly dodgy forecast in the offering.
“We're crossing our fingers and toes,” says Kaye Williams. “Our last two shows have both had classes or days cancelled so we're hoping for a bit of a break.”
Competition gets underway at 8.30am each day, running through to about 5pm except on Saturday evening when a fun speed class between horses and ponies is scheduled. “It's exciting and loads of laughs.”
Volunteers have been working flat out to prepare the Showgrounds for the show and have even had help from early-comers from far afield who have stayed in the district after competing at the recent Wairoa Show.
“The grounds are looking a picture – as they always do,” says Williams. “A little rain would be good to take the sting out of the ground but we don't want too much.”