Teen with wings . . . Taupo teen Annabel Francis and Carado GHP are hot contenders in the POLi Payments and McIntosh Global Equestrian FEI World Cup qualifier at the Taupo Christmas Classic later this weekend. Photo by Cheleken Photography

New Zealand’s best showjumpers are heading to Taupo this week for the Christmas Classic World Cup Show.

It’s getting to the business end of the POLi Payments and McIntosh Global Equestrian FEI World Cup qualifier – the nation’s highest-ranked series with riders chasing valuable points before the January final.

Back-to-back series winner Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) is leading the charge on a perfect 60 points from the three rounds so far. She’s got her star Windermere Cappuccino on the card. His track record is impressive right from his first World Cup start in November 2018 with six wins, four seconds and always in the placings.

Tegan also has eight-year-old Campari entered, who while has had just two starts in the World Cup he’s bagged a third and a fifth.

“I’m really pleased with how both my horses have jumped in the previous rounds so it would be nice to keep up that consistency and produce some good rounds this weekend, however what will be will be,” says Tegan.

“It’s going to be a tough five weeks, with three World Cups, so the main goal is just making sure they both stay happy and confident.”

But it is a talent-stacked field, with 18-year-old Annabel Francis looking to make the most of her home-ground advantage at the National Equestrian Centre. Annabel won the Feilding round of the World Cup aboard La Quinara but couldn’t take top points as the 12-year-old German imported mare was not her nominated mount. She’ll be tossing up again this week with both La Quinara and 13-year-old Carado GHP entered and will have to give the nod to one.

Two-time World Cup (NZ) final winner Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) and LT Holst Andrea are always dangerous. The 12-year-old mare is hugely consistent for the current Olympic Cup holder.

Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Fiber Fresh Veroana is always there or thereabouts. They won their debut start at this level in 2018 and have plenty of seconds, thirds and fourths to their credit but will be chasing that illusive second win.

Olympian Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) may have all the experience at top international level but has had just a single World Cup start in New Zealand this season as she and her team settle back into life in the Southern Hemisphere. She will compete aboard 10-year-old Takapoto Alaid de Chez Nous who was one of four to come home from Europe with Samantha this year.

Melody Matheson (Havelock North) and Cortaflex Graffiti MH are a solid combination, while Logan Massie (Dannevirke) is quickly building his relationship with the 11-year-old chestnut stallion Bravado Ego Z. Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) has more experience at World Cup level than the whole field and this time lines up aboard the nine-year-old gelding Central Park who had just three World Cup starts.

Drew Carson (Putaruru) and the Dutch-bred Winston V Driene round out the field of 11.

Pip Howells is on debut as a World Cup course builder and says she’s both nervous and excited at the same time. She has spent many years working alongside top international course designers and is looking forward to putting it into action. “The FEI education system for course designers has been fantastic for development too and I am immensely grateful for the opportunities that I have had so far,” said Pip. “I never dreamt of going this far with my designing when I started out 20 years ago.”

The World Cup Series runs over six rounds with the best four to count for each rider.

The winner of the New Zealand league usually has the chance to represent the nation at the Longines FEI World Cup Final which is scheduled to be held March 31-April 5, 2021, in Gothenburg Sweden, but with a global pandemic whether it goes ahead or not is uncertain.

Following Taupo will be another qualifier at Dannevirke (January 10) with the final at the Waitemata World Cup Show at Woodhill Sands in Auckland (January 17).

The Christmas Classic runs from December 17-20 with the World Cup round on Saturday evening. There is a special function for those who like to watch the world-class action with all the comforts with tickets ensuring exclusive premium viewing of all the top classes on Saturday, a cash bar, big screen, finger food from 5pm and the opportunity to walk the World Cup course with former Olympic showjumper Colin McIntosh and his wife Toni who competed for many years at World Cup and Grand Prix level in the United States.


POLi Payments FEI World Cup Leaderboard (after three rounds): Tegan Fitzsimon (West Melton) 60 points 1, Annabel Francis (Taupo) 46 points 2, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 45 points 3, Melody Matheson (Havelock North) 34 points 4, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) 27 points 5, Robert Steele (Dannevirke) 24 points 6, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) 22 points 7, Kimberley Bird (Ashburton) 20 points 8, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) 17 points 9, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 17 points 10.


By Diana Dobson
15 December 2020