There are top-flight fields of riders from all over the country heading to Gisborne this week for the Larsen Sawmilling North Island Jumping and Show Hunter Championships.
As well as the prestigious North Island titles – 13 in jumping and eight in show hunter – there is also a trans-Tasman young rider test, the FEI Children’s International Classic, an FEI CSI1* 1.4m class and a five-strong New Caledonian team competing as part of their New Zealand visit.
More than 350 horses and ponies will be competing over the three days at the Showgrounds-hosted event. Friday morning’s 19-strong Bayley’s Real Estate Gisborne FEI CSI1* 1.4m features some of New Zealand’s top combinations including Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) aboard LT Holst Andrea, who recently won the Longines FEI World Cup (NZ series) final along with Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Fiber Fresh Veroana who placed third in the series. Local hope Fraser Tombleson will be looking to impress aboard his home-bred mare Mea I who has been in fine form in the recent World Cup Series. A number of combinations in the class will be using it as a warm-up for Sunday’s Equissage Horse Grand Prix which has attracted 15 entries.
There is a solid 14-strong field in the Country TV Pony Grand Prix with local hopes pinned on Amelia Paull and Envious Edition but they will face some serious competition from former Pony of the Year Maddox Fun House with Emma Watson (Morrinsville) as well as Tony the Pony with Rylee Sheehan (Te Aroha).
The hotly-contested Trans-Tasman Young Rider Test always attracts plenty of interest. Riding for New Zealand in the Easts Outdoor Work & Leisure young rider test is Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo), Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu), Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) and Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) with John Cottle the chef d’equipe and Elmo Jackson (Auckland) the reserve. Australia will be represented by Lucie Aldridge, Clemency Hughes, Lucy Evans and Cameron Moffatt with Todd Hinde the chef d’equipe.
The competition runs over three days, with points accumulating through to the final on Sunday. All competitors are on borrowed horses with new mounts each day.
The FEI Children’s International Classic (gold tour) will run over two days with the youngsters, aged between 12-14 years, facing two rounds a day. As an international competition, the horses or ponies are all inspected before being allowed to start. The winner of the individual competition will have their score pitched against others from around the globe with the very best competing in a world final later in the year.
The championships also mark the end of the Bernina Sewing and Crafts Gisborne Jumping Series for both horses and ponies, as well as the EJ Gordon Livestock Show Hunter Series and the LP Show Hunter Series.
The grounds are looking immaculate for the championships, which kick off on Friday. There will be three jumping arenas running each day, with the show hunter competition held in the Gisborne Equestrian Centre indoor arena.
Heather McDonald is the course designer for ring one, John Vallance (Aus) in ring two and Marcus Rose in ring three.
Entry is free for spectators.