The opening round of the POLi Payments FEI World Cup (NZ) League at the Hawke’s Bay A& P Show next month marks quite a milestone for course designer Kevin Hansen.
This will be his 50th World Cup course, and he clearly remembers the first back in 1998 at Taupo where Ann Wilson and the lovely Imperial rode off with the win. He also rode in the very first World Cup in New Zealand, which was held in Hawke’s Bay in 1983.
“It was myself and a young chap called Blyth Tait through to the jump-off,” Kevin says. “He won – I think I took a rail.”
A lot has changed over the years, but one thing has remained firm – Kevin’s pure passion for the sport of showjumping.
“Course building has certainly changed, and the sport too,” he says. “Things are a lot more technical now.”
That said, he’s promising the opener for the 2022-2023 World Cup Series in Hawke’s Bay to be fitting for both the stage in the season and for the international importance of the class. “It is the first World Cup of the season so riders can expect it to be slightly softer technically but still to World Cup standards – no doubt about that,” he says. “I will be building to create an exciting competition out of the second round against the clock.”
With a $4000 prize purse for the class, paid out to 12th, hopes are high the class will attract plenty of interest. There are five rounds in the series, with the best four to count and the final worth points-and-a-half.
Last season Kevin built at both Feilding and the early Hawera round. At Hawke’s Bay he will be assisted by Glenn Brooks, Sooz Wright and Greg Best and he remembers fondly those who helped him along his course designing journey.
It was the late David Graham who signed off his first World Cup course. “I was a candidate international designer back then and couldn’t sign off the course, but David walked it with me, said it was ideal, and signed it off.”
Back then they’d get 26-28 lining up in the class. “In those days we had just come out of a grading system and riders were very keen to step their horses up to the highest level . . . there seems to be a bit of a reluctance to do that these days.”
He is looking forward to a good competition in Hawke’s Bay and one that will kick the World Cup Series off in style.
“I am at the end of my course building career,” he says. “I really think this will be my last season. It is time to slow down and do more with my family. The sport doesn’t need me anymore.”
The Hawke’s Bay mission will be a bit of a homecoming for the 70-year-old who is an honorary life member of the Hawke’s Bay Show and lived most of his life there before crossing the Tasman seven years ago. He and wife Sue now live in Morrinsville where they have become quickly entrenched in the local community.
They’d been there five minutes and Kevin decided he needed to get out and meet some people so in response to an advert in the paper about the opening game of the bowls season, he headed along.
The rest is history. While that was only three-and-a-half years ago, he has since raised nearly $1million for bowls, is on the board for Bowls Waikato, vice president of the Morrinsville Club and has created one of the richest bowls tournaments in the country being hosted at his new club.
The Jumping Team – 27 September 2022