Australasia’s largest equestrian showpiece the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show is set to steer a new course under its own horse-power, following the announcement the event will be managed in-house in future.

The decision comes as the Horse of the Year Show Board concludes its five year contract with event management company SMC, who has been contracted to run the event since 2016.

“It’s a move which will strengthen the local roots of the event and will be another positive step forward for the show,” said Horse of the Year Board Chairman Tim Aitken.

“We recognise the show’s revenue is driven by the commitment of the riders and their support crews, volunteers and officials, trade and our wonderful sponsors.” Tim Aitken added that the timing was right, with the term of the contract with SMC up for renewal.

“The Board is very grateful to SMC for leaving the event in a strong fiscal position, and for developing and guiding it well over the past five years.”

In a joint statement SMC Director Dave Mee expressed regret his team would no longer be at the helm of the event.

“SMC are obviously disappointed that we will not be continuing to organise this wonderful event.”

“After a short lead in time, and challenging year one event in 2016, we are extremely pleased and satisfied with what we have achieved in the past five shows.

“This included raising the bar in onsite presentation and event production, bringing out international World No 1 riders Tim and Jonelle Price and creating an official partnership with the most prestigious equestrian event in the world – the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Creating a quality of competition good enough for our Olympians to stay in NZ for their preparations and bringing many local schools to the event completely free of charge, while markedly increasing the show’s sponsorship revenue.  

“Post event surveys show the rider and public enjoyment rating of the event rose from 62% to a 96% ‘good to excellent’ rating under our management. The rider numbers are also the highest they have ever been, as too with the trade stands and onsite functions.

“The event is in very good shape, and we wish the Horse of the Year Board all the best with their future endeavours,” he said.

“We’d like to take the opportunity to thank Dave Mee and his team for all for the work they have done, which has taken the event to new heights, and paved the way for ongoing success.  Securing the naming rights and relationship with Land Rover has unquestionably given Horse of the Year a new dimension,” said Board Chairman Tim Aitken.

“The commitment of our hosting city, Hastings and its Council along with other shareholders Equestrian Sports New Zealand and Show Jumping Hawke’s Bay provides tremendous support, ensuring we’re able to continue delivering a world-class event,” said Tim.

Land Rover Horse of the Year has become an iconic southern hemisphere sporting, entertainment and hospitality mecca attracting global media attention and proving a potent marketing platform for Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, and New Zealand.

This year’s six day event in March attracted record trade demand with 220 trade sites selling out in record quick time, paired with increased commercial sponsorship and extensive media coverage across multiple platforms – boasting its  highest number of live streaming views around the world.

Despite the COVID 19 cloud, the March 2020 event drew nearly 50,000 spectators through the gate over the week of competition, and saw a record 1709 horses and 1331 riders participate.




For media and all other enquiries contact:

Land Rover Horse of the Year Media Manager
Alisha Neilson
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 021 672 718

Horse of the Year Show
Board Chairman Tim Aitken
Phone: 027 472 4587

SMC Events
Director Dave Mee
Phone: 021 310 501