Wonderful weekend of show jumping ahead
There are plenty of current national title winners coming back to defend their titles at this weekend’s Tavendale & Partners National Show Jumping & Show Hunter show in Christchurch.
Invercargill’s Nicole White will be back with LC Samson, the horse she won the National Grand Prix title on last year when the horse performed very well in the testing muddy conditions that prevailed on the last day. Nicole is predicting better weather this year and is also predicting a hot competition.
“The Grand Prix riders in the South Island are very strong at the moment,” she said. “The placings have been shifting round quite a lot. Steffi Whittaker has been doing really well, Chris Harris has had some really good rounds, Lucinda Askin has also been going well too. Then there is Tegan Fitzsimon who has just come back from the North Island after an unreal win in the World Cup so everyone has a top shot of getting it."
This is probably the last time that we will have the chance to see Tegan and Windermere Cappuccino together as the sale of the horse overseas looks imminent. The horse is a serious talent and while her share of the sale proceeds will be life changing, it will be a sad time for Tegan if this is the last time the pair compete together. She is also competing in the class on her other top horse, Double J Monarch.
The pony jumping is always lots of fun to watch. The Fiber Fresh NZ National Pony Championship is run as part of the Country TV Pony Grand Prix Series with the first round on Friday with the final on Sunday. Rosa Buist-Brown won last year’s National Championship on Junior Disco (pictured above) but this year is competing on Ellen Vanin Untouchable, a pony that she has only been riding a short time. The pair looked very promising at recent competitions, placing third in the Pony Grand Prix at the South Island championships recently at Waimate.
Rosa has some hot competition however from the other pony riders. Southland’s Ella Wylie and MF Spot Me is one to watch, as is Otago’s Noah Coutts on the coloured stallion Bizzie Canoodling. Christchurch’s Sophie Geddes with her two ponies also have excellent form coming into this competition.
Another current National title holder who will be competing again this year is Queenstown’s Lauren Buckley on Icey Storm. Last year Lauren and her off-the-track thoroughbred won the 1.20m championship but this year they are setting their sights on the National Pro-Am title which is always a very competitive class. The class, sponsored by Dunstan Horsefeeds, Equifibre and Moa, is over 1.20-1.30m and will be contested on Saturday.
Lauren has shown some excellent form lately, but will be up against last year’s National Pro-am winner, Christchurch’s Kirsty Sharapoff who will be back to defend her title. The class will be Kirsty's focus for her talented thoroughbred Shoot the Breeze who competes successfully in most equestrian disciplines. Eventing is Kirsty's priority so she has made the decision to enter in just this one show jumping class at this show. "He's got a long season ahead all the way through to May and because he can do everything, it is a little bit too easy to say ‘I can do this, this and this’ so now I am trying to be a little more targeted in what I am entering.”
Danielle Maurer’s Madam Coco (pictured below) won the 1.30m national championship last year but the Auckland based rider isn’t making the journey down to defend her title. One of New Zealand’s top show jumpers, Leeston’s Rose Alfeld has Cadenza NZPH in this class. Unfortunately Rose’s Grand Prix horse, Super Nova, has been out with an injury but she reports he is back in work. Rose was delighted to have her first bare-back sit on him the other day. "He was very good, he got a little wild but he is quiet again now, and is doing a few laps of the racetrack with Dad's racehorses, but I will be back on his back soon and hopefully back next season!"
A serious contender in the Hygain National 1.30m championship is Hokitika’s Rebecca Wardle on WS Paradise. The pair have been in top form and are a real talent. Nicole White has a good chance in this class too, riding her mare Lil LeRoux. “She has been jumping really well lately so hopefully she can step up and do something cool,” Nicole said.
Another one to look out for is North Canterbury’s Carissa McGregor with her scopey Blytheburn Coruba. The pair were winning at the South Island Championship recently and Carissa has high hopes for her young horse. “The 1.30m championship is his target. We'll give it a good crack. He has really good form coming into it, he has had a ribbon at every show this season! He is feeling really good."
Selwyn’s Harry Feast is planning to take a team of four to the Nationals. “My plan is that Double J Bouncer will probably jump the Grand Prix. I've got a six year old, plus one that will do the 1.10-1.20m championship and possibly one in the 1.20-1.30 champs. A bit of a range really!”
Harry had a lot of success with his top horse Bouncer last year but admits that so far this season hasn’t been so good. “It’s been a bit hit and miss and he has had a few minor injuries but he seems to be coming good again, so hopefully...”
The championship classes for the national titles have a different format to most show jumping classes. The overall winners are the combinations who do the best out of two day of competition. The first rounds are held on Friday 1 February and the final rounds are on Sunday 3 February. Harry thinks this format is a good test of a combination’s consistency. “It is quite cool that you can win on the first day but you still have to go and do another good day on Sunday and be consistent.”
Saturday is the day for a lot of the age-related series class with the highlights being the Young and Junior rider competitions.
The Dunstan Horsefeeds & Equifibre Junior Rider Series and Equitation is a hard class to pick but the big grey, Icebreaker II has many fans, and his rider Tayler Nalder (Cust) rides to win. Other North Canterbury junior riders are Georgia Allison who will have the cute Paintball in the class, and Amberley’s Brianna Bailey who rides Bridgemere Havana. Peita Milne will be making the trip down from Nelson to compete on Global PH Licorice.
Sophie Scott is one of the few North Islanders who have made the trip down for this show and will be competing on Lakota in the FMG & NRM Young Rider class. She’s got some hot competition with Steffi Whittaker and On the Point Eve, as well as Rangiora’s Grace O’Sullivan on Cosmopolitan to mention just two of the classy field.
There are also good entries in both the ponies and horses section of the show hunter section of the show over the three days. There are Horse of the Year qualifications as well as National titles in show hunter up for grabs.
No National show would be complete without some great alternative entertainment to the horses. As well as the fun team competition on Saturday night, there will be a terrier race on Sunday at lunchtime. If you have a speedy terrier, entries can be made on the day. Nicole White is one who is up for whatever is planned on Saturday night, and she gave everyone a good laugh at last year’s team relay . "It is always fun and I love getting the kids out doing fun things and getting them involved."
There are no gate fees on any of the days, so come on down to the National Equestrian Centre, opposite Orana Park, McLeans Island, Christchurch. The show starts on Friday and goes through to Sunday. There are plenty of trade and catering stands.