New Zealand and Australia’s biennial Oceania clash is hitting new heights with a third senior team heading to the 2019 challenge.

Being held as part of the National 3-Day Event at Taupo (May 10-12, 2019), the Australians have pledged to bring three teams – two senior teams to compete at (current) CCI3* and a young rider team to compete at (current) CCI2* level also. It is the first time so many teams will be taking part in the challenge and will give both countries the best possible chance to test the new Olympic Games format.

ESNZ Eventing  sport manager Eliza Johns says  “This has been nearly six months in the making and been driven by both Australian and New Zealand high performance programmes. It gives a whole group of riders the benefit of competing as a team in the new Olympic format. It is an exciting step for the sport in this part of the world and for the Oceania teams’ event which is a highlight on the Australasian calendar.”

The Australians will be bringing their own horses to Taupo and the additional numbers will be a big boost to the CCI3*class – soon to be CCI4*-L under the new level system. “It is going to be great for the class,” says Eliza.

ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout says there were many benefits likely to come from the competition.

 “From a programme perspective, not only does it provide an invaluable opportunity for more riders to experience riding in a team, but it also provides great learning for grooms, horse health teams and chefs d’equipe within New Zealand,” said Sarah. “Obviously the chance for us to better understand the format, tactics and intricacies of the proposed Olympic eventing format is invaluable.”

Teams comprise four combinations but just three nominated at the start, with the fourth competing as an individual. Team riders are also in the individual mix. In the event of a substitution, the fourth combination will inherit the score of the combination being substituted however, will also carry their own score for the individual competition. In similar fashion to the Olympic Games, there will be two rounds of showjumping however, the individual rounds to decide the placegetters will be held first – unlike the Olympic Games.

The 2018 Strzegom Horse Trials in Poland ran a test event this year, using the new Olympic rules for the Nations Cup competition.

The event calls for a big financial commitment from both countries, not only to transport horses, support staff and teams, but in hosting the competition too. ESNZ Eventing and ESNZ High Performance are working together to ensure the competition, being held at the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo, is of an international standard with significant investment and time going into the cross country in particular.

New Zealand won the senior trans-Tasman clash at Werribee in 2017 and plans are afoot to ensure the Kiwis will return to Australian soil for the biennial clash in 2021.

Sarah encourages anyone keen to support or sponsor the event to come on board early.

Expressions of interest from New Zealand riders wishing to be considered for selection will be called for in the new year.