Young gun Briar Burnett-Grant is chasing a double on Sunday with her sights set on back to back victories in the FEI New Zealand World Cup Qualifier at the Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Showjumping Championships in Dannevirke.
It’s an event that holds special memories for the Taupo teen who last year represented New Zealand at the Youth Olympic Games as it is where she had her first ever World Cup start which she also happened to win.
On Sunday, she and Fiber Fresh Veroana will take on 13 other strong combinations in the penultimate round of the New Zealand series. “We want to claim back the title we won last year,” says the 18-year-old. She’s currently at the top of the World Cup (NZ) leaderboard, sitting on 49 points with Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) in second place on 42 and a trio of riders on 41 in third.
This is where it can start getting tricky with points on the leaderboard. Just the best four scores count towards the series result. Briar, Fraser and Lily Tootill (Karaka) who is on 41 have all had just three starts, so won’t be dropping scores. Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), who is also on 41, has had four starts but with a zero on the board his drop off score is neither here nor there. Then comes Melody Matheson (Hastings) and Logan Massie (Dannevirke) who have each had four, so will be dropping their worst.
Briar makes no secret of her desire to not just win this weekend, but take the series. “If I was to win the series, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity of going to the final in Sweden (in April). Ultimately we are planning for the 2020 Olympic Games – I know I am only 18 and it would be a long shot, but that’s my goal.”
Her feisty roan is feeling “fresh and good” and she knows he is a fast and consistent horse for her, however she’s not one to disregard any of the competition. “There are others in there who are very good – we’ve had the best fields this season for quite a while. It’s been great.”
She’s talking about the likes of former series winner Maurice Beatson who is entered on both Gold Locks and Mandalay Cove, and Olympic Cup winner Lily Tootill aboard Ulysses NZPH who have already had a win in the series this season. Wins this season have come from Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) who has both Windermere Cappuccino and Double J Monarch on the card, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) who is entered on Belischi HM, and Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) who won’t be competing this weekend.
Melody Matheson (Hastings) and Graffiti MH had two wins last season and generally finish strongly. Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) and LT Holst Andrea are always ones to watch, as are former Olympic Cup winner Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) aboard her lovely stallion Euro Sport Centavos who have only dabbled in the World Cup. Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and Intellect have five World Cup starts to their credit with a third place at Hawera their best to date, while Nicola Hammond (Cambridge) and Carlo I will be looking to improve on their steady efforts in their first season at this level.
First timers lining up at Dannevirke to be challenged by the Roger Laplanche designed course will be Dani Maurer (Kaukapakapa) aboard Madam Coco and Nick Brooks (Cambridge) on Versace C.
The series concludes next week at the Continental Cars World Cup Festival at Waitemata where it will be a hard fought battle to claim the points-and-a-half on offer in the final. The winner of the series has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Final in April in Goteborg, Sweden, in early April.
FEI Jumping World Cup (NZ League) Standings (after four rounds): Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) 49 points 1, Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) 42 2, Lily Tootill (Karaka), Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) and Melody Matheson (Hastings) 41 =3, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) 40 6, Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) and Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 37 = 7, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) 32 9, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) 27 10.
Full leaderboard: FEI World Cup Leaderboard 20/12/2018
WHAT: Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Showjumping Championships
WHEN: January 4-6, 2019 – World Cup Qualifier Jan 6
WHERE: Dannevirke Showgrounds
MORE INFO: www.main-events.com