By Devon van Til 

The South Island’s best riders will go head to head in Ashburton for the South Island Show Jumping and Show Hunter Championship this weekend 11-12 November.

Riders will travel from as far south as Invercargill and as far north as Blenheim to compete for the valued South Island titles in the region’s first Premier show. The weekend will be jam packed with action over five rings at the lovely Ashburton A&P Showgrounds.

The always competitive rider series classes will be a target for many on day one, vying for valuable double points. On form rider Steffi Whittaker will make her presence felt in these classes. She has her top two mounts Eros K and Ngahiwi Cruise enter in the FMG Young rider, giving her a double shot at the glory.

Although it won’t be easy as local sisters Kimberley and Jaimee Bird have the hometown advantage.

Whittaker has entered her last, but certainly not least horse Tribute OL in the Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Junior Rider. It will be a strong competition with a number of classy riders not only gunning for the win, but also the equitation section for extra points. On form Tayler Nalder and the impressive Icebreaker ll will be hunting for the most points to secure her position as the leading South Islander in the Junior Rider Series.

Day one is rounded out with the South Island Pony and Horse Speed Championships. Well known speed demon Rosa Buist-Brown will start in both classes this year, with her sharp pony Junior Disco and taking the reins of her sister Molly’s horse Prestige. Buist-Brown will be up against experienced speed rider Nicole White, who has two horses on the start list.

The highlight on day two for both spectators and aspiring riders will be the Bayleys Real Estate Horse Premier League. Just four combinations start in the class, however it is a field of quality horses. Chris Harris will be looking to continue his winning streak with Glenbrooke Archie Bunker, dominating the top classes so far this season. Kimberleigh McCabe, last year’s winner will be putting all her faith in her trusty thoroughbred Kace.

The youngest rider in the class, Harry Feast can’t be underestimated with Double J Bouncer showing good form. The local hope for this class is Susie Hayward aboard her starry stallion Andretti, the most experienced horse in the class. All the horses are very different in their way of going, so it could be anyone’s game over two rounds.

The Country TV Pony Grand Prix is bound to be a great spectacle with a number of top combinations. Experienced rider Grace Manera is the only rider with two chances in this class with ponies Rednalhgih Cowan and Tallyho Scoundrel. She will be challenged by many younger riders who have made the step up to Pony Grand Prix this season.

The show closes with the South Island’s second leg of the FEI World Jumping Challenge. Whittaker aboard Ngahiwi Cruise was the winner of the first leg and needs a double clear with a fast time to hold onto her lead. Hot on her heels is local Jaimee Bird and Double J Wilma who finished only 0.02 seconds behind Whittaker. Such a narrow margin leaves no room for error and this pressure cooker class will be a great way to end a wonderful show.


WHAT: South Island Show Jumping and Show Hunter Championship 

WHEN: 11-12 November

WHERE: Ashburton A&P Showgrounds