New Zealand’s premier jumping series gets underway tomorrow (Friday) at the Hawke’s Bay Royal A&P Show in Hastings. The New Zealand World Cup League is part of an international series that culminates at the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Final in Goteborg (SWE) in April where the best from each league around the globe go head-to-head.
Friday’s class is the first of six being held around New Zealand, with riders counting just their best four scores. It’s a solid field lining up to be challenged by the Roger Laplanche-designed course including Olympians, former series winners, New Zealand World Cup representatives, Olympic Cup victors and more.
Spear-heading the 18-strong field on Friday is Melody Matheson (Hastings) and Graffiti MH who won two World Cup rounds last year and will be looking for better than her third-place overall in the series.
“Graffiti is looking good and definitely ready for the World Cup start after her (winning) performance at Foxton last weekend,” said Melody. “I am pretty happy with how she is going and confident we can pull off a good result.”
Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) and Mandalay Cove will be ones to watch. The former Olympian has previously won the series and also represented New Zealand at the world final. Mandalay Cove has been jumping World Cup classes since December 2016 and twice been on the podium.
“We’ll be hoping for a good one,” says Maurice. “Mandalay Cove is starting to get a bit more experience now.”
Former Olympic Cup winners Lily Tootill (Karaka) aboard Ulysses NZPH and Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) aboard Euro Sport Centavos both have previous form that makes them dangerous although it will be Centavos’ first World Cup start. Lily and Ulysses NZPH won a grand prix start at the weekend and come into the World Cup in high spirits.
Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) and AP Ninja have nine World Cup starts to their credit, finishing all but one in the top nine and three on the podium.
Also on the card are William Willis (Karaka) on Dollar Roll MS, Harry Feast (West Melton) on Double J Bouncer, Lucy Olphert (Tauranga) on Eve Saint Laurent, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea, Daniel Blundell (Auckland) aboard Lavello and Logan Massie (Dannevirke) aboard Intellect.
First-time combinations in the opener are Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) and his home-bred mare Mea I, Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) and Waitangi Wi Fi, Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) and Portofino, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) and her lovely stallion Bravado Ego Z, Helen McNaught (Taupo) aboard her new mare Kiwi Bird and Daniel Blundell (Auckland) on Athena NZPH.
Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) is on her World Cup debut aboard the stallion Eros K who has previously competed at this level with another rider, but not since 2016. Steffi has only recently turned 18 making her eligible to start in the event. “I am very excited, but we’ll just see how it goes,” she said.
Missing from the 2018-2019 series is last season’s winner Rose Alfeld (Leeston) whose horse My Super Nova has been out for most of the year after an injury in March and she has no plans to rush him back before he is ready.
Following Hastings, the New Zealand series will continue at the Egmont A&P Show (November 16-18), Feilding (November 30-December 1), Taupo’s Christmas Classic (December 13-16), and the Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Showjumping Show (January 4-6), with the grand finale at the Waitemata World Cup Festival in Auckland (January 10-14).
The winner of the series has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the world final next year.
October 18, 2018
By Diana Dobson