By Virginia Caro

Photo Courtesy of Trewey’s Photgraphy


Last year’s winner of the coveted title, Eventer of the Year, Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation went on to bigger and better things, culminating in 6th place at Rio and best of the Kiwis. While Johnstone will be competing at HOY this year, he will not be defending his title, as “Richie” is being brought back into work slowly, and will only showjump at HOY this year.


So who will take the honours this time? It is wide open but the crowd favourite, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) on the aptly named DSE Mr Hokey Pokey, have as much chance as anyone. They are the current National Eventing Champions, having won that title at Arran Station, Takapau, last October, and currently head the Super League table.


Lying second is Virginia Thompson (Kaukapakapa) and Star Nouveau, who won the Honda NZ CCI3* class at the Puhinui Three-day Event in December last year and the year before, but their form in the short format (CIC) of the sport, as at Hastings, is not as impressive as their record in the long format (CCI).


There is a large margin back to the rest of the field but Samantha Felton (Matangi) and Ricker Ridge Escada will be trying to show the benefit of spending most of the spring season in Australia, and hoping to return there in the NZ Oceania team in June. Andy Daines (Kumeu) and Spring Panorama are another combination to have Australian experience, having contested the Adelaide CCI4* in November.


Rangiora farrier Brent Jury is making the long trip to Hawkes Bay with SE Hedging, fires permitting, as is former Eventer of the Year Emily Cammock (Christchurch) with Shaw Lee. Diane Gilder (Te Kauwhata) and the handsome Your Attorney will be trying to make amends for missing the national championships, while Jackson Bovill (Matangi) would like a repeat on Visionnaire, who was runner up at Arran Station.


There are twenty-two entries in the Land Rover CIC3* class, and a further forty-one in the CIC2*. They will all do their dressage on Thursday morning, showjump on Friday morning, and tackle John Nicholson’s innovative cross-country course on Saturday morning. This will allow the track to be taped the night before, and alleviate the delay before the start of the cross-country as in previous years.


Competition will be keen, not only for the win and the prize purse that goes with it, but also the Super League points on offer, this being the first event of the autumn season. The series will culminate at the Melbourne Three-day Event this year, where the Oceania Championships for both Senior and Young Riders are being staged, on 10-12 June, Australian Queen’s Birthday weekend.


The national selectors will be watching all combinations with a view to selecting training squads in mid April. The teams will be named prior to the NRM National Three-day Event at Taupo in May, and team horses will not contest the full CCI classes there, opting for the shorter CIC classes as part of their build up for the Australian trip.


The ever increasing entries indicate the popularity of the event amongst the eventing fraternity, who appreciate the opportunity to perform in the exciting atmosphere of a big occasion. The experience stands them in good stead when they travel to overseas events, with all the hype of international competition.


It is also the public’s best opportunity to witness the excitement of cross-country riding in the flesh, as opposed to on television. The proximity of galloping horses jumping challenging fixed fences into water provides a thrill that is not felt when watching televised coverage. So there is only one place to be next Saturday morning – don’t miss it!

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