There are some rather big names in the record-breaking 520-plus horses and riders at the Tavendale and Partners’ New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championships that get underway in Christchurch on Thursday.
Star billing is Olympian and World Champs representative Samantha McIntosh who will line up in the three most prestigious classes at the champs – the Graham McClintock June Cresswell National 1.3m Horse Championship, the Wilcox Perlas Potatoes New Zealand Grand Prix Horse Championship and the Tavendale and Partners New Zealand Premier Horse Championship with her team.
Samantha, who is based in Cambridge, has only twice competed at the National Champs but does hold a title. “When I made a plan for my horses the nationals fitted into what I wanted to do,” she said. Just last weekend she had a full team competing at the Giltrap Audi World Cup Festival in Auckland so it was a quick turnaround on Monday.
“The Nationals would be nice to win. There are not many in the big class (premier) but it is certainly one of the classes I have been targeting.”
She is looking forward to big trip south having only returned from Europe mid-2020 due to COVID. “It is a nice way to see some of the country.”
In the premier championship – which is part of the POLi Payments Premier League Series – Samantha and Takapoto Alaid de Chez Nous will go head to head against the in-form Olivia Robertson (Queenstown) aboard Grandaire, Nicole White (Invercargill) with LC Samson and Kimberley Bird (Ashburton) on Cera Cassina.
The Rutherford Cup, awarded to the premier champion, is the ultimate trophy to hoist. It is in honour of Ben Rutherford, a former president of Equestrian Sports New Zealand and team manager for the national showjumping team to Tokyo in 1964.
The trophy has not been presented for the past four years due to low numbers but has previously been won four times by Katie Laurie (nee McVean) and three times by Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke).
The Mary Dalley Memorial is presented to the New Zealand Horse Grand Prix Champion and for the past two years was won by Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) aboard Windermere Cappuccino. Also on the trophy is Samantha McIntosh who won it in 1996 aboard Mrs King.
The championship format across the event means each combination has to qualify for the next day and will carry through any points over the three days of competition. “I do enjoy the championship format as it does put the pressure on everyone,” said Samantha.
She’s not the only North Islander to head down to McLeans Island for the champs – also making the trip is Takapoto team rider Oliver Croucher, as well as former Olympic Cup holder Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu), Sam and Jeremy Whale (Cambridge), Samantha Carrington (Takapau), Mandy Illston (Masterton) and Keira Page (Mystery Creek), among others.
National series classes in both showjumping and show hunter are also being contested.
It is the 25th year the Nationals have been held and 2021 has seen a massive increase in entries, particularly in show hunter.
Riders across both showjumping and show hunter are chasing national titles across the grades but there is also the Whittaker Equine Stables Rising Star Championship which encourages those under 12 who are new to the sport, with mentors assigned to each for the competition.
All championships finals will be held on Sunday at McLeans Island in Christchurch. Donella Still will be designing the courses in ring one with Sarah Ching charged with ring two, Tony Hutton in ring three and Dorothy Scott in the show hunter.
WHAT: Tavendale and Partners’ New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championships
WHEN: January 21-24, 2021
WHERE: McLeans Island, Christchurch
MORE INFO: https://www.nznationalsjchamps.com/
RESULTS AND START LISTS: www.main-events.com
By Diana Dobson
20 January 2021