All roads for the nation’s top showjumpers lead to Hawera this weekend for the POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Final.
At the front of the pack is two-time series winner Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) who has a near perfect tally from her four starts aboard Windermere Cappuccino this season. She sits on 77 points, with fellow former series winner, Olympian Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) on 62 and two-time final winner Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) in third on 56.
Tegan and her 11-year-old New Zealand warmblood gelding did their first World Cup in 2018, and from 18 starts since have won eight and top three in 15, but they aren’t letting that dominate as they head to Saturday’s all-important final.
“We won’t be treating it like a final,” says Tegan. “Our whole season has been based on consistency, so our focus will be maintaining the standard of performance he has put out. We have been double clear in three of the four qualifiers, and that’s what you always hope for.”
She’s grateful to have the horse she does. “I am lucky enough to have a horse of the quality he is so that every time I go into the ring I can be confident the horse can jump whatever is put in front of him.”
The World Cup Series is an important one for the South Islander who bases herself in the north for around seven months each season. “It just steps the level of performance up a notch being an international competition,” she says. “It is something most riders aim to achieve in when you get up to the higher level. It is really good for the horses to have an FEI record for offshore sales and competition and puts us on the world map.”
Maurice Beatson lines up aboard Central Park. He’s one of the country’s most respected competitors and can lay claim to have won the highest number of Grand Prix in New Zealand.
His gelding has really started to find his way in the higher levels. “He is now very consistent and it’s great to see,” says Maurice, who has been competing in the series since it was first introduced to New Zealand more than a decade ago. “This is a series that truly gives you a gauge on how good a horse is. These are important for both our riders and officials.”
And while he has competed in so many World Cup Series, Maurice says they’re always exciting.
Brooke Edgecombe and LT Holst Andrea are the current holders of the Olympic Cup as Showjumper of the Year. “This is a class you really hope goes well,” she says. “It is the most important one (in the series) because it is worth points-and-a-half so you want to do well. Andrea has been pretty consistent this season but we probably need a little bit of luck to go our way.”
It’s the fourth time they have competed in the series. “This is the only championship we can qualify from New Zealand and is what every rider aims for. Without this we would have to go to Australia or further to jump at the highest level. It’s every breeder’s dream to produce a World Cup horse.”
The series is how New Zealand riders obtain qualifying requirements for the likes of the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games.
Young gun Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) has shown she can foot it with the best this season and has two on the card in Waitangi Skynet, who did World Cups with an earlier rider in Australia, and Glenbrooke Rich as Roses. Sophie sits in fourth place on the leaderboard.
Also in the mix is Melody Matheson (Havelock North) aboard Cortaflex Enya MH, Vicki Prendergast (Matamata) on her homebred mare Selena C, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) on Cassina Dior, debutant Samantha van Lierde (Cambridge) aboard Cadillac NZPH, Daniel Webb (Hunterville) with WSJ Centaur, Daniel Blundell (Tauranga) on Cadenza NZPH, and Jeremy Whale (Hampton Downs) aboard Idol D.
Course designer Gary Sinclair (Upper Hutt) has been creating courses for 45 years. “You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it,” said the FEI level 3 ranked designer. “We have set criteria we have to fit in with a World Cup so it is relevant to what is happening around the world and up to standard. “I do love the series. It makes us keep ourselves up to top standard and is the only way we can compare ourselves to other parts of the world. It really does set a standard for the horses to work to if they want to go overseas.”
Just the rider’s four best rounds count towards their series score. The winner of the series has the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the final in Leipzig (GER) in April – should it go ahead.
The final, which is running as part of the three day Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre World Cup Final Show, will run late Saturday afternoon at the Egmont A&P Showgrounds in Hawera.
Points after four rounds –
Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) 77 points 1, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 62 2, Brooke Edgecombe 56 3, Sophie Scott (Palmerston North) 49 4, Daniel Webb (Hunterville) 47 5, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) 34 6, Melody Matheson (Havelock North) 31 7, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) 21 8, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) 19 9, Jeremy Whale (Hampton Downs) 11 10.
WHAT: POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ League) Series Final at the Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre World Cup Final Show
WHEN: Saturday, January 29, 2022
WHERE: Egmont A&P Showgrounds
MORE INFO AND LIVESTREAM: Taranaki Equestrian Jumping on Facebook
START LISTS AND RESULTS: www.evoevents.co.nz
Jumping Team – 26 January 2022