It’s a month late but that takes nothing from the prestige of the POLi Payments World Cup Series opener at the Taranaki Spring Show in Hawera.
Thanks to COVID and all that it throws at the world, and for a while the whole series was in jeopardy, but finally this weekend will see the start of the New Zealand league get underway thanks to some massive efforts behind the scenes from so many.
Two of last year’s series podium finishers are back but overall winner Annabel Francis is now based in Ireland and the well-performed Briar Burnett-Grant in Europe. Two-time series winner Tegan Fitzsimon is back with her Mr Consistent, Windermere Cappuccino. The 11-year-old had his first start in November 2018, and from 14 outings has only thrice been out of the top three, with six wins.
Tegan, who hails from West Melton in the South Island, brought her four-strong team north early in a stuttering season with the World Cup as her main focus. “This is what we spend nine months up here for,” says Tegan. “This is the series we all want to win. I am just really looking forward to it getting underway. With it being one of the most prestigious series up for grabs in New Zealand, it is really something that top level riders have their eye on. This is why I spend months of the calendar year based in the North Island, preparing, and improving myself and my horses for this league.”
As well as Windermere Cappuccino, Tegan also has nine-year-old Campari tilting for the series with an expected start later in the year.
There are 10 on the start card to be challenged by course designer Kevin Hansen on Sunday. Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) and LT Holst Andrea, who earlier this year headed across the Tasman to compete in a couple of World Cup rounds, will be looking to find their form of previous seasons.
They won the series final in the 2019-2020 season. “I am really looking forward to it,” says Brooke. “It is fantastic the Taranaki Jumping Group have taken it on and we are all very grateful to them for that. Andrea has been super consistent so far this season in the Grand Prix classes so I hope to continue that with a solid result in the World Cup.”
Former series winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) has Central Park entered and they have looked strong this season. The 10-year-old gelding has had four World Cup starts since October 2020.
Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and his lovely chestnut stallion Bravado Ego Z are in and with some big plans for the season will be keen to start the series well. Melody Matheson (Havelock North) lost her superstar Cortaflex Graffiti this year but steps up Cortaflex Enya MH for her first World Cup start. Also on debut at World Cup level are Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) aboard Glenbrooke Rich as Roses, Philip Steiner (Tauranga) on Cassina Dior and Daniel Blundell (Cambridge) with Cadenza NZPH.
Daniel Webb (Hunterville) has entered WSJ Centaur, who had a single World Cup start last year, with Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) aboard McMillans Ariados.
ESNZ jumping manager Marilyn Thompson said the season had been a challenging one with lockdowns, cancellations, and a lack of insight as to what would happen in the coming weeks.
“It really has called for a lot of crystal ball gazing,” she said. “COVID boundary restrictions has meant officials from Waikato and Auckland have not been available and riders also unable to travel. We are now awaiting government announcement about the move to the COVID protection framework to understand what will be required at future events.”
Marilyn extended a huge thanks to the Taranaki Equestrian Group who had stepped in to run the World Cup show after the cancellation of the Egmont A&P Show.
From Hawera on Sunday, the series moves to the indoor arena at Feilding (December 4), the Young Horse Show in Hastings (December 12), Dannevirke (January 9) and back to Hawera for the final (January 29). Riders’ results from their top four starts count towards the series. The Hawera, Hastings and Dannevirke rounds will all carry a Certificate of Capability for the FEI World Games which will be held in Herning, Denmark, in August 2022.
Updates and livestreaming will be available on the Taranaki Equestrian Group Facebook page. here
For full entries, head to www.evoevents.co.nz
Jumping Team 18 November 2021