Fans of equestrian sports have a wonderful opportunity to see top riders and horses competing for national titles in Christchurch when the Tavendale & Partners National Show Jumping and Show Hunter Championships start on Thursday 16 January and concludes with the finals day on Sunday 19 January.
Superstars Windermere Cappuccino and Tegan Fitzsimon won the top title last year and are back again this year to wow us again, fresh from three months of competing in the North Island, which concluded with coming out on top in the prestigious New Zealand World Cup series.
This pair must be considered the top combination in New Zealand at present. Tegan said Vollie, as her horse is known, was very pleased to be back at home in Sandy Knolls, and had been having a cruisy time until this week when training stepped back up for this show.
“The Nationals will be a tough competition,” said Tegan. “The horses have to go well all show, and who knows will happen, which makes for a great competition. We can’t predict anything!” The national titles are decided after five rounds of jumping over the four-day show.
Recently back from living and competing in Europe is Queenstown’s Olivia Robertson. Her very smart Grandaire has only competed once before in Canterbury, when they won the Jump for Cancer event last year.
Kimberleigh McCabe has boasting rights for being the southern-most based rider and will travel about 7.5 hours from south of Invercargill. She has two horses entered in the show, including the talented Kace.
The Pro-Amateur class on Saturday is one of the hottest competitions around and two North Islanders have travelled down to target this event. Larina Dolman (from Gisborne) currently leads the Harrison Lane Pro-Am season-long series on Kiwi Lansing, so is keen to get some more points to extend her lead even further. Ex-jockey Katie Hercock is also bringing a team of horses down from Hawkes Bay and will be competing on Whimsical WDS in the Pro-Am. Last year’s Pro-Am title winner also back; Lauren Buckley and Icey Storm, from Queenstown, are very capable of winning the title again.
Sophie Scott is a regular visitor to this show from her Wellington base, this year making the trip with her team of five horses. She has a strong chance to win yet another national title including potentially repeating her win from last year in the FMG Young Rider on Lakota.
North Island rider Francesca Covich is competing on two horses in the Junior rider class. There are also riders in this class from Otago, Nelson and Marlborough but the local combinations including Rosa Buist-Brown, Caitlin Adams, Margot Curtis and Sophie Townsend also have excellent chances, based on their recent form.
Sunday will definitely be the day to bring the family to watch as this is finals day. One of the feature events in the main arena will be the Fiber Fresh National Pony Grand Prix. Back to defend her title is Tai Tapu’s Sophie Geddes who took out the quinella last year, winning on Benrose Silver Shadow and placing second on Te Ngaio Raggamuffin. This year she and Te Ngaio Raggamuffin are competing again, and the pair have been in fine form all season, winning many Grand Prix and jumping 1.55cm to win the six-bar competition at the NZ Ag Show. There’s two sets of sisters competing in the class too – Ella and Ruby Rae-Wood are from Greymouth and Emma and Samantha Gillies are from Oamaru and all have been frequently in the placings at the top South Island shows.
In the show hunter ring, Emily Cammock (West Melton) was runner up in the Lone Goat Vineyard National Championships last year and is back to see if she can go one better. She’s got two horses competing at that level, and will have a very busy show having entered in 31 classes on 5 different horses!
The Tavendale & Partners National Show Jumping & Show Hunter championships will start on Thursday 16 January and conclude with the finals day on Sunday 19 January. It is held at the National Equestrian Centre, McLeans Island, Christchurch and entry is free for spectators. There are a range of trade stands including food and refreshment stands, and spectators can get up close to the action. It’s a great day out for all the family.
By Jane Thompson
15th January 2020