It’s a competitive and rather classy field including Olympians and former winners lining up for the opening qualifier in the FEI World Cup (NZ League) Jumping Series at the Royal A&P Show in Hawke’s Bay on Friday.
There are five qualifiers to be held, with just the best four results to count for each rider and the winner having the opportunity to head to the world final in Las Vegas in the United States in April.
All eyes in the CSI1*-W this week will be on the 2018-2019 series winner Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) who is back with her very consistent nine-year-old Warmblood Windermere Cappuccino who in four starts bagged two wins and two seconds. All expectation was that the horse would be sold offshore at the end of last season but he’s still here and his rider couldn’t be happier.
“I’d like a performance like last season,” she says. “That would be quite good but I am not expecting too much out of him. We will just see how it goes and take each class as it comes.”
Another one they’ll all be eyeing will be Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) who last season won the final and was second in the series aboard her lovely 12-year-old Holsteiner mare LT Holst Andrea. “I’m aiming for a top three finish in the series again,” says Brooke. “As a rider of course, I would love to compete in the world final but there is a lot to be considered . . . my family, the farm and more. It is not just a matter of jumping on a plane with my horse and heading to Vegas!”
At just 19, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) is the youngest in the field but don’t let that fool anyone. She and her 11-year-old roan Fiber Fresh Veroana won the Olympic Cup in 2018 and their first-ever World Cup start last season. They’re fiercely competitive, were third in the series last season, and are not long back from competing in Australia.
“The series is one of my big goals for the season and I would love to win that,” says Briar. “If we did, we would look seriously at going to Vegas.”
Veteran Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) is one who knows all about the world final. He has ridden for New Zealand at the World Cup final and won the series many times. He has his 10-year-old chestnut mare Gold Locks and 12-year-old gelding Mandalay Bay on the card for Friday. “This is an important series to win,” says the former Olympian. “It is a high profile one and those five rounds will be the toughest we’ll face all year.” Four of the five qualifiers count towards Certificates of Capability for the Tokyo Olympic Games which means all the courses will be certified by the FEI before they are jumped.
Rio Olympian Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) and his 12-year-old German sport horse Quainton Labyrinth, a former eventer, have shown their class, finishing third in the final last season and second the season before. “I am looking forward to starting Labyrinth in the Hawke’s Bay World Cup,” said Clarke. “He is feeling in very nice form so mainly hoping to jump our first clear round in a World Cup.”
Current Olympic Cup holder Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) has entered aboard her 10-year-old former racehorse Belischi HM and is always one to watch. Also in the mix is Rose Alford (Leeston) on her 14-year-old Holsteiner cross My Super Nova, Lucinda Askin (Ashburton) on her 15-year-old Australian thoroughbred Portofino, Nicola Hammond (Cambridge) with her 13-year-old warmblood Carlo I, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) on her 10-year-old chestnut stallion Bravado Ego Z and Robert Steele (Dannevirke), who is another former series winner but this time competes on the 11-year-old mare LT Holst Bernadette.
There are a handful of first-timers entered in Natasha Brooks (Cambridge) aboard her nine-year-old Twerk, Takapoto Equestrian rider Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) on his 12-year-old grey mare Waitangi Surf, Nicole White (Invercargill) on her Selle Francais LC Samson, and Emelia Forsyth (Clevedon) aboard her eventer-turned-showjumper Henton Faberge.
Roger Laplanche (Timaru) has been tasked with challenging the field on Friday with the class set to go early afternoon at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds Hastings.
The remaining rounds are being held at the Egmont A&P Show (November 24), the Feilding IA&P Show (December 7) and Taupo Christmas Classic (December 21) with the final at the Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Show in Dannevirke on January 5. Just the four best results count from each rider.
The 2019-20 sponsor of the World Cup and Premier League Series is Merco, the New Zealand master distributor of POLi payment system.
By Diana Dobson – Media Liaison