It’s turning into a battle royale at the top of the POLi Payments FEI (NZ League) World Cup series with the penultimate round this weekend at the Taupo Christmas Classic. Leading the charge is the very in-form Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) aboard Windermere Cappuccino with two wins and a third from their three starts.
It was this South Island combo that last season claimed the series among a heap of other wins, trophies and titles. The nine-year-old warmblood gelding is by Corofino II and only stepped into the World Cup series last season. Their result card is all podiums.
Lying four points adrift of Tegan is last season’s series runner-up Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) aboard her 12-year-old Holsteiner mare LT Holst Andrea who is by Casall. These two won the series final last season and are hugely consistent every time they step into the ring. They had their first World Cup start in 2017 and since have had five podium finishes for two wins, including the series opener at Hastings in October.
Nineteen-year-old Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) shares the third spot on the leaderboard with veteran Robert Steele (Dannevirke). Briar placed third in the series last season and is always keen to do better with her Olympic Cup winning roan Fiber Fresh Veroana. The 11-year-old sport horse is by Indoctro and the two came out with a bang, winning their first-ever World Cup start in January 2018 and have continued to be hugely competitive since.
It is a star-stacked 18-strong field and with just the best four of five rounds to count, everyone will be chasing those all-important points heading into the final early next month.
One to certainly watch will be youngster Olivia Dalton (Karaka) who is having her first World Cup start aboard her imported Belgian warmblood gelding Cil Dara Bonaparte
Former series winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) has his two stars on the list in Mandalay Cove and Gold Locks. The former, a 12-year-old bay gelding has done plenty of World Cups since his first in 2016, with 10-year-old chestnut mare Gold Locks stepping into the series in 2018.
Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) is starting her 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding Biarritz. The combination have been competing in Australia since August 2018 and doing World Cup classes since 2015.
Former Olympic Cup winner Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) and her 16-year-old stallion Euro Sport Centavos are no stranger to top competition, having represented New Zealand at Nations Cup level in the United States. They’ve had just a single World Cup start this season for a third placing at Hawera.
Current Olympic Cup holder Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) and Belischi HM are always dangerous and can never be discounted, along with Melody Matheson (Hastings) and Cortaflex Graffiti MH, Julie Davey and the imported Joligne De Carmel who had their first World Cup start at Hawera last month for a second place finish, Robert Steele (Dannevirke) and LT Holst Bernadette and Logan Massie (Dannevirke) on Intellect.
Relative newbies to the World Cup who have entered at Taupo include Kimberley Bird (Ashburton) aboard Cera Cassina, Natasha Brooks (Cambridge) and Twerk, Drew Carson (Putaruru) and Winston V Driene, Emelia Forsyth (Clevedon) and her former eventer Henton Faberge, as well as current Lady Rider of the Year Mikayla Herbert (Rotorua) and Grand Caballo.
The winner of the New Zealand League has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the world final in the United States in April.
The World Cup class is part of a fun-filled and highly- competitive schedule at the four-day show being held at the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo with more than 850 horses entered. Historically this is New Zealand’s largest showjumping event. Other star classes include the Events Capital TDC CSI1* 1.4m and the McIntosh Global Equestrian Horse 1.3m. The Backing Black Cocktail Party and Auction Evening on Friday is a big push to raise funds for New Zealand’s Tokyo-bound showjumpers with sporting memorabilia from the likes of the All Blacks and Emirates Team New Zealand as well as other high-end items. Tickets can be bought through Eventfinda. Entry to the show is by a gold coin donation at the gate.
POLi Payments FEI (NZL League) World Cup standings (after three rounds): Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) 55 points, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 51, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Robert Steele (Dannevirke) 45, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) 23, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) 22, Emelia Forsyth (Clevedon) 21, Julie Davey (Hastings) 19, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) 18.
WHAT: Taupo Christmas Classic
WHEN: December 19-22, 2019
WHERE: National Equestrian Centre, Taupo
By Diana Dobson
17th December 2019