It’s a four-way battle for top honours in the FEI World Cup New Zealand League Series with the final on Sunday at the Golden Grove Stud Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Jumping Show in Dannevirke.
Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) has a six point buffer on Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) who is a single point ahead of young gun Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) with Robert Steele (Dannevirke) another two points back. With points-and-a-half on offer and a $5500 prize purse, there is plenty to ride for. It is another very solid field in the 13-strong POLi Payments-sponsored class and each of the top four combinations will have a drop score as only the best four rounds count.
Tegan and the nine-year-old Windermere Cappuccino are defending series champions. They’re extremely consistent without doubt one of the stars of the New Zealand circuit however, their 2019-2020 season hasn’t been without its challenges.
“It was always going to be tricky backing up a near-perfect World Cup Series last season,” said Tegan. “There have been a couple of hiccups this season but he has still jumped relatively consistently throughout. I am just super grateful to have the ride on such a special wee horse who gives me 100% every time we step into the ring.”
From their eight starts since they first stepped into the World Cup Series in November 2018, they have had seven podium finishes including four wins.
Brook Edgecombe is in aboard her lovely 12-year-old mare LT Holst Andrea who won the final last year. “Anything can happen in the final,” says Brooke. “Andrea has been really good this season and I think she has improved again from last season. I just try to ride her the best I can to make her job as easy as possible.” She’ll be treating the final like any other round. “I’ll hope for a little luck on the day too. The fields this season have been strong – anyone entered could win but you can’t worry about the other competitors. You just have to ride to the best of your ability and hope the stars line up.”
Briar Burnett-Grant is in on her fiery roan Fiber Fresh Veroana. “I am hoping I can finally pull out a win (for the season),” she said. “He usually jumps pretty good at Dannevirke.” It was where the combination made their World Cup debut in 2018, blitzing the field for the win.
The baby of the field is 17-year-old Annabel Francis (Taupo) aboard Carado GHP who are having their first World Cup start together. The grey is no stranger to such competition though, having done eight with his previous rider Olivia Hamood in Australia.
Robert Steele is a long-time campaigner of World Cups in New Zealand and can lay claim to a few series wins quite some time ago. This time he’s in on his 11-year-old mare LT Holst Bernadette. “She’s gone well this year and been in the top six every start,” says Robert. It’s all the more pleasing for him because she was out with injury for all of last season.
Also on the card is current Olympic Cup holder Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) aboard Belischi HM, Melody Matheson (Hastings) on Cortaflex Graffiti MH, multi-series winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) with both Gold Locks and Mandalay Cove, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) on Intellect, Julie Davey (Hastings) aboard Joligne De Carmel, Drew Carson (Putaruru) on Winston V Driene and Simon Wilson aboard McMillans Ariados.
The winner of the New Zealand series has the opportunity to represent the nation at the world final in Las Vegas in April. The class is set to start around 1pm on Sunday.
Points after four rounds (just best four to count): Tegan Fitzsimon 65 points, Brooke Edgecombe 59, Briar Burnett-Grant 58, Robert Steele 56, Kimberley Bird 26, Logan Massie 25, Emily Hayward 23, Melody Matheson and Drew Carson 22.
WHAT: Golden Grove Stud Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Jumping Show – including the POLi Payments FEI World Cup NZ League Series Final
WHERE: Dannevirke Showgrounds
WHEN: January 3-5 – World Cup Final January 5, 2020
MORE INFO: start lists and results www.main-events.com
FREE LIVESTREAMING: http://jxsport.tv
By Diana Dobson
2nd January 2020