Author Archives: Horse of the Year
There will certainly be celebrations in the Australian ranks tonight at the 2018 Land Rover Horse of the Year.
A tough track in the Horseware Silver Fern Stakes incorporated the Trans-Tasman senior test match between Australia and New Zealand and the Aussies were on form, posting three clears in each of the first two rounds to force a jump off.
None of the Kiwis managed a clear in the first round, with Melody Matheson and Lily Tootill having two rails apiece aboard Graffiti MH and Ulysses NZPH respectively, while fellow team member Tess Clark had just the one down on Sinatra II. The fourth member of the Kiwi team, veteran Maurice Beatson, looked to be heading for a clear but a rail at the second to last and an unfortunate fall at the final fence put paid to that.
In the second round the Kiwis added more rails which put paid to their plan for a home country win, leaving the field wide open for the invaders to take both the individual trophy and the team honours.
Four went into the jump off, with double clear rounds from Australians, Stuart Jenkins and Fairview Aliquidam, Brooke Langbecker and Quintago and Clint Beresford and Emmaville Jitterbug. No matter what, the trophy was heading over the ditch, with the fourth double clear coming from New Zealander Katie Laurie who relocated to Australia in March 2017 but is back to contest the Olympic Cup once again. Aboard the lovely grey stallion Casebrooke Lomond she tried her best but couldn’t quite catch Beresford, who did one better than his second place in 2016 and took away the 2018 Horseware Silver Fern Stakes. Jenkins slipped into third with a rail in the final jump off relegating Langbecker to fourth.
Young rider Brayden Aarts was fifth with LT Holst Aunty Annette with a four fault total after two rounds with Tess Clark and Sinatra II sixth as the fastest eight faulter.
The Bayleys Real Estate Young Rider of the Year went to Te Awamutu teen Emily Hayward, the only double clear of the day on Yandoo Lady Gold. The class for under 21 year old riders is always hotly contested and the young lady was thrilled to take it out. Hayward has won the national young rider series multiple times but had yet to lay claim to the HOY title, and can now add the award to her long list of other victories. Kimberley Bird and Cera Cassina seem to like second place taking out the spot behind Emily after their second placing in the Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year yesterday. Third went to Nakeysha Lammers and Resolution while Cambridge’s Nicola Hammond and Carlo I were fourth.
In the eventing, Rio Olympians Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation wowed in the dressage phase of the Land Rover CIC 3* to be in top position heading into the second phase. The thrilling cross country will take place from 9.00am at the show on Saturday morning.
Twice a Lady for Cubitt
It was a special day for two long time patrons of equestrian sport as they were inducted into the Horse of the Year Hall of Fame on Thursday evening.
63 year old Julie Brougham and 69 year old Ross Coles were both inducted thanks to their many years of service to the sport they are so passionate about.
Brougham was the oldest competitor at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her chestnut stallion Vom Feinsten, and has recently been selected to represent New Zealand once again at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in the USA later this year.
Her contribution to dressage is significant and her success at the highest level of the sport is impressive – she is just the third Kiwi to have competed in dressage at an Olympic Games while also scoring higher than those who came before her.
Fellow rider Ross Coles comes from the show jumping side of things but his career is no less stellar. Having represented New Zealand internationally as a younger man, he was chef d’equipe for the New Zealand show jumping team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Coles hunted with Pakuranga Hunt for 25 years, was clerk of the course at Ellerslie Racecourse and still plays the part of technical delegate at shows all around the country. His service to Horse of the Year has spanned decades and his passion for the event and for the sport of show jumping is undeniable.
Out in the Premier Jumping Arena, the competition is starting to heat up with today seeing the Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year crowned. 30 started the all-female class and the two round competition was exciting right down to the very end.
She’s won it before but this win was pretty special for Cambridge based professional rider Lisa Cubitt. On Matawai Sentana, a horse she has only been riding for six weeks for owner Jacqui Wright, she was clear in the first round. A bit of a stumble over the second fence in round two saw the rail come down and she put her foot down to be the fastest four faulter.
A couple of seconds separated Cubitt from second placed Kimberley Bird on Cera Cassina, who also had a rail down in the second round to follow their clear in the first. Her fellow South Island rider Tegan Fitzsimon settled into third just behind her with the lovely Double J Monarch and Waikato based Emily Hayward was fourth with Belischi HM.
Cubitt was understandably thrilled with the win, putting it down to good preparation. Her solid plan had been for a second clear round but the early rail meant she had to ride for time and her flying finish over the last fence was certainly impressive to watch.
Thursday also saw the first pony class in the Premier Jumping Arena with the final round of the Pony Championship Stakes, standing at approximately 1.25m.
26 ponies started the second round with several South Islanders in the mix and it was a mixed bag right from the start. Of the seven clears eventually posted there were four sitting on double clear when the points were added together, and a four way jump off commenced.
First out was Emma Watson on Maddox Fun House, a combination which has dominated the Pony Grand Prix classes all summer long. Their time was the quickest of the group but a rail down meant they settled for third place with Sophie Scott and Grace Manera jumping clear for first and second aboard Benrose Playtime and Tallyho Scoundrel respectively.
The other major title awarded was the GJ Gardner Pro-Amateur Rider of the Year which went to James Cottle and Oracle WT. The son of well decorated show jumper John Cottle, James has recently returned to the competition arena with much success. Second place went to Sally Clark, the partner of Dannevirke’s Maurice Beatson, riding Victoria’s Secret.
Friday will see the Hastings Heart of Hawke’s Bay Friday Night Extravaganza as well as the Horseware Silver Fern Stakes including the New Zealand versus Australia senior test team match. All eyes will be on the Kiwi team at 6.00pm as they defend the nation against the visiting team.
Golden Day for Tom and Popeye
Wednesday brought the first of the major show jumping titles as well as another picture perfect day of Hawke’s Bay sunshine.
The FMG Norwood Gold Cup was hard fought this afternoon with the honours eventually going to Tom Tarver-Priebe and Popeye. A tricky jump off was set and Tom was third out to post the first clear, and none could catch him. Australian young rider Brooke Langbecker came the closest on Quintago with a slow and steady clear round for second place, while last year’s victors William Willis and Dollar Roll MS were relegated to third with a brick falling off the wall in the jump off.
Earlier in the day the amateur riders had their time in the Premier Jumping Arena with the Wade Equine Amateur Rider of the Year final. 30 combinations had qualified the previous day and a beautiful course was set at a maximum of 1.20m by German course designer Werner Deeg. The course accentuated the flowing but technical track and of the 30, five horses and riders jumped clear and into the jump off.
She was the trailblazer in the first round and she had to do it all again in the jump off, but the pressure clearly didn’t faze South Islander Kate Cavanagh in the slightest. The Geraldine based full time rider rode Wallflower to the win in the final to take away the Wade Equine Amateur Rider of the Year ahead of second placed Anna Stephen and Lollipop SP.
Cambridge rider Rachel Malcolm piloted Monte Carlo MVNZ to a stunning win in the AHD Ltd Six Year Old Horse of the Year on Wednesday morning, coming in a full four seconds faster than runner up Samantha Peters on Cadillac NZPH. It was an impressive 11 horse jump off from 41 original starters and Malcolm was understandably thrilled with the victory on the horse she rides for the Tauranga stud Mount View Sport Horses.
Over in the Premier Dressage Arena, Vanessa Way had her second triumph of the show with NSC Pronto taking away the competitive Level 5 Title. They hit the 70% mark and are looking like a promising combination for the future. In the Level 4 Title Rebecca Rowlands was victorious with her Salutation gelding Solo.
The week continues with the Ultra Mox Lady Rider of the Year on Thursday as well as the Cape Kidnapper’s Hall of Fame Cocktail Party in the evening. Later, the Hastings Heart of Hawke’s Bay Friday Night Extravaganza is sure to draw the crowds with an Australia versus New Zealand senior test match as part of the Horseware Silver Fern Stakes. The weekend looms with the big titles up for grabs including the Farmlands Pony of the Year and Premier Stakes on Saturday, and the Olympic Cup, Land Rover 3 Star Eventing and GJ Gardner Homes Grand Prix Freestyle on Sunday.
Sun Shines on Day One
The Hawke’s Bay might have had a bit of rain on Monday night but Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny for the first day of the 2018 Land Rover Horse of the Year.
The South Island riders proved that they weren’t at the show to make up numbers, with Cantabrian Harry Feast taking out the IRT Horse 1.40m class aboard Double J Bouncer. Sixty-three combinations lined up for the first class in the Premier Jumping Arena, used by many riders as a warm up for the bigger and more prestigious jumping to come.
Eight horses and riders came back for the jump off after jumping clear in the first round with Feast best of the bunch with a second clear round in 50.88 seconds. Australian Clint Beresford was the only other clear in the jump off but he and horse Emmaville Jitterbug weren’t quite fast enough to catch Feast. Young rider Briar Burnett-Grant proved she’s won to watch this year with the excitable Fiber Fresh Veroana coming home as the fastest four-faulter in the jump off. She was followed by Northland’s Amanda Wilson of Keeping Up With the Kaimanawas fame riding Showtym Cassanova in fourth place as best of the eight faulters.
The pony area teams event, the Saba Sam Shield, was dominated by the Canterbury team made up of Grace Manera, Rosa Buist-Brown and Holly Crean. Named after the iconic mount of Graeme Hansen, the Saba Sam Shield was donated in 1971 when Hansen decided an incentive was needed to prepare young riders for teams events ahead of them. Saba Sam himself was repurposed as a show jumper after a disappointing racing career and together with Hansen represented New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. The Otago-Southland team kept up the South Island domination this year by coming a close second with their team of Ella Wylie, Noah Coutts, Jordan van Miltenburg and Pippa Collins.
The first class in the Premier Dressage Arena, the Donut Express Level 5 5C, was taken out by Vanessa Way and NSC Pronto with a score of 69.9%.
With good weather expected for the remainder of the week there will be plenty of excitement leading into the weekend. Hospitality ticket sales have been tracking well with the expectation of selling out of several of the speciality events including the Friday night Fish ‘n’ Chips evening and the Cross Country Brunch on Saturday.
Eventing – Raising The Bar
Horse of the Year is used to international visitors, but the 2018 line up is looking particularly diverse. The week-long event in March will play host to a number of global equestrian superstars who will further define the show as a truly international event.
The eventing discipline is looking especially star-studded, with both the CIC2* and CIC3* classes important for rider ratings at the international level. There are few opportunities in New Zealand to gain these points, with HOY providing an excellent chance for riders to make a mark on the charts of the international equestrian federation.
No stranger to eventing at the highest levels, 3*/4* judge Christian Landolt is looking forward to his first time at Horse of the Year, though he already has his own connection to the Hawke’s Bay. In addition to his judging career Landolt also rides himself, and his eventing mount is none other than Toblerone NZPH, bred and born at Ocean Beach stud NZ Performance Horses. Landolt is a regular feature judging at the world’s most prestigious events, including Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials, and was a member of the ground jury at the recent Adelaide 4* where Kiwi Clarke Johnstone triumphed. His experience at the absolute upper levels of the sport will be invaluable to competitors and spectators alike at HOY where the Swiss native will be a judge and member of the ground jury.
Landolt will be joined on the ground jury by Annabel Scrimgeour who also holds the highest qualifications as a 3*/4* judge. Scrimgeour flies in from the UK where she works closely with Kiwi rider Andrew Nicholson and many others at the top of their game. South Islander Helen Christie will head the ground jury as one of few New Zealanders with the top qualifications. Christie has been involved with HOY for years, fitting her home country event into a calendar packed with international expectations, including officiating at the World Equestrian Games.
Finally, eventing brings their superstar line up to a close with technical delegate (TD) Christian Persson. An Olympian in his own right, Swedish visitor Persson is also headed to his very first HOY and couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity. A previous member of Sweden’s eventing team at the 1984 Olympics, Persson has been involved with eventing for decades and has been the TD at a number of major international events.
HOY organisers are looking forward to raising the bar on the eventing discipline.
“The next generation of Kiwi eventers are ready to break into the international circuit, so it’s important to get them in front of international judges, and for them to ride in an international atmosphere,” eventing director Erika Herries says. With New Zealand history steeped in eventing success at an Olympic level, it’s a discipline that deserves to be front and centre of the country’s biggest horse show.
HOY 2017 Deconstructed!
Horse of the Year is over for another season and it certainly will go down in history as one of the wettest HOYs ever. While the weather provided a disappointing backdrop, the show went on to crown the big show jumping titles on Sunday with Karaka’s Lily Tootill walking away with the prestigious Olympic Cup.
The crown jewel of HOY, the Olympic Cup is the class that show jumpers all over New Zealand dream of winning, and it was young Lily’s time to shine with her fabulous horse Ulysses NZPH. Fondly known as Ronald at home, the chestnut gelding bred by NZPH stud jumped well in very wet conditions and went double clear to take the win. The field was impressive indeed with twenty-one of the top combinations in the country lining up, and 2016 winners Helen McNaught and Carnutelabryere showed their consistency coming in second behind Lily. Helen had her big win of the week with the Aarts’ family’s LT Holst Aunty Annette taking out the Silver Fern Stakes on Friday afternoon.
Earlier that morning the Farmlands Pony of the Year was announced with South Island combination Steffi Whittaker and Moonlight Glow the only double clear. International course builder Werner Deeg built tough but fair courses under the conditions, taking into account the rain and wet ground.
The dressage title was hard fought and beautifully won by Abbie Deken on her gorgeous KH Ambrose, who was all smiles as the combination skipped around the Land Rover Premier Arena for their victory lap. The decision to cancel the cross-country phase of the eventing was made early Saturday morning due to the dangerous conditions and wet grounds making ambulance access difficult and meant that there was no Eventer of the Year crowned for 2017.
While the mud made for cancelled classes and shuffled timetables, it also heralded a massive mud fight on Saturday much to the delight of riders and spectators. The innovative Wilson sisters of TV series ‘Keeping Up With the Kaimanawas’ fame instigated the filthy fun and many joined in for a good laugh. Tractors were working overtime to pull trucks and cars out of the camping grounds but an overwhelmingly positive vibe stuck around despite the wet weather. It’s only the second time Horse of the Year has seen that much mud in the nearly twenty years it has been based in Hastings and though it makes for a difficult competition, trade was booming and did a great day on Saturday while it was too wet to ride.
Though Saturday may be remembered for the cancellation of the cross country and other show jumping classes, it also heralded dessert chef Adriano Zumbo’s debut at the event. His dessert degustation was a huge success with the VIP tent packed full of those keen to experience his creations alongside Harney and Sons Fine Tea. The five course dessert menu was beautifully complemented by delicious teas and the feedback was truly fantastic.The team is now looking forward to debriefing and getting stuck into the 2018 show.
Join us at Horse of the Year, New Zealand’s premier equestrian event, for an afternoon of indulgent desserts and New York style tea with internationally acclaimed dessert chef Adriano Zumbo.
Australian’s most celebrated patissier and star of Zumbo’s Just Desserts, Adriano Zumbo is looking forward to his first visit to the Horse of the Year show in Hastings. As part of an incredible sponsor activation, Zumbo will be designing a dessert degustation accompanied by Harney and Sons Fine Teas on Saturday March 11th. The afternoon will certainly be one to remember, with a dessert menu designed by Zumbo showcasing his unique flavour combinations, exciting textures and signature bold colours and created by Orton Tailored Cuisine.
Zumbo began a pastry empire back in 2007 with his Balmain shop front, and now has nine stores in Australia. Famous for his macarons, Zumbo has three books to his name as well as numerous appearances on television, including an appearance on MasterChef which introduced the croquembouche to an international audience and made macarons a household name.
HOY event director Dave Mee says to have someone of Zumbo’s standing appear at the show alongside the pool of talented riders is fantastic. “HOY is more than just a horse show, and we are always looking at how we can enhance the show, whether it’s the arena, stables or attractions to give our riders and spectators a better experience.” Mee says.
The show adds Zumbo to a list of new initiatives offering spectators plenty of things to see and do while at the show including new bar areas, wine tasting and an al fresco living space allows HOY to showcase the best in food, wine and lifestyle as well as equestrian.
The association with Zumbo wouldn’t have happened without HOY’s portfolio of fantastic sponsors, many of who are keen to provide additional attractions for the show and develop it for Hawke’s Bay locals. The dessert degustation will take place in the VIP lounge at HOY at 4.30pm Saturday 11 March, with limited tickets available. To purchase tickets visit www.hoy.kiwi.
What: Harney & Sons Dessert Degustation with Adriano Zumbo presented by Orton Tailored Cuisine.
When: Saturday 11th March 4:30pm – 6:00pm,
Where: VIP Lounge, Horse of the Year, Hawke’s Bay A & P Showgrounds
- Access to VIP Lounge
- 5 course canape dessert degustation created by Adriano Zumbo and prepared by Orton Tailored Cuisine.
- All-inclusive beverage package including 1 glass of champagne and Harney & Sons Tea and coffee
- VIP parking
- $79 per person (does not include GA entry to the show) or $105 per person for both GA ticket to showgrounds and Harney & Sons Dessert Degustation ticket.
The 2017 Horse of the Year show looks set to be one of the most competitive yet, with entries up on the 2016 event.
Olympians headline the most prestigious titles of the show, the show jumping Olympic Cup, 3* Eventing, and the Dressage Grand Prix, which have grown significantly from 2016, and will make for exciting and competitive viewing.
The growth in numbers has also filtered down to the other classes, and shows the popularity of the event and the high regard in which it is held in by riders throughout the country.
Dressage entries in general have increased substantially for the 2017 show and for the first time ever Horse of the Year has had to consider capping some classes to keep numbers within capability. Record numbers for this section indicate a strong growth for the discipline which may have been spurred on by the success of Kiwi rider Julie Brougham, who scored the highest ever percentage by a New Zealand combination at the recent Rio Olympics. Defending his 2016 win will be John Thompson riding JHT Antonello, though the two previous winners will have some stiff competition. Tthe ever professional Vanessa Way will also be on her A game with NRM Arawn.
The crown jewel of Horse of the Year, the Olympic Cup, will definitely be maintaining its reputation as the biggest prize in New Zealand show jumping. Currently holding 25 entries, the order for the class always changes slightly between entries closing and the date of the event, but even without those changes it will be a class act. There’s a definite representation of both experienced combinations and young riders stepping up however show jumping is all about leaving the rails up in the quickest time so it would be near impossible to predict a winner. World Cup round winners from the season will be present, including young talent Samantha Morrison and Biarritz, Natasha Brooks and Kapattack, and Lucy Fell on Tinapai. Young Lily Tootill in her first season at this level will be starting the class on Ulysses NZPH, with whom she won the Dannevirke World Cup round in January. And naturally, Katie Laurie will be as competitive as always with two rides, the beautiful Dunstan On The Point Eve and the winner of the Waitemata World Cup round, Dunstan Casebrooke Lomond.
Olympian Maurice Beatson will also be contesting on both Schimmel Warrior and Mandalay Cove, as will the reigning Olympic Cup champion Helen McNaught on Carnutelabryere. There are plenty of less experienced but none the less noteworthy combinations seeking the grand prize, too: Daniel Blundell will start Lavello after recent success at Grand Prix level, and the impressive and ever consistent 17 year old Emily Hayward-Morgan will ride AP Ninja. Also planning on lining up is Rio eventer Clarke Johnstone with show jumping mount Quainton Labyrinth.
Though he may be giving Rio mount Balmoral Sensation a quiet year, Clarke is planning on an anything but quiet Horse of the Year show. In 2016 he won the 3* Eventing Horse of the Year title on Balmoral Sensation before the two flew to the United Kingdom to further prepare for their Olympic debut. Clarke felt that the electric atmosphere, busy showgrounds and public pressure at HOY 2016 played a big part in their Olympic build up and will be returning to defend his title, this time riding Wolf Whistle II.
The eventing will be an exciting event with a massive 24 entries in the big 3* class, including current Super League series leader Donna Edwards-Smith riding DSE Mr Hokey Pokey. Eager to give her a run for her money will be Virginia Thompson and Star Nouveau, sitting in second on the series leader board after a super win in the 3* at Puhunui Three Day in December. Young rider Jackson Bovill has had some impressive placings with Visionnaire this season and he will be hoping for a good ride at HOY. Also entered is Samantha Felton who will be busy with three horses in the 3*, one in the 2* and another two entered in show jumping classes throughout the week.
With just four short weeks to go, anticipation is certainly building and entries have definitely reflected rider enthusiasm for the show. The 2017 Horse of the Year is set to be a very exciting event indeed – tickets can be purchased here: https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2017/mar/horse-of-the-year-2017
HOY First Timers
For many riders, Horse of the Year has become a real ‘bucket list’ item that sits high on a list of goals that equestrians dream of achieving. Whether it’s the speedy show jumpers or the stylish show hunters, the brave eventers or the beautiful dressage riders – everyone wants a chance to compete at the show that is the epitome of equestrian in New Zealand.
Fifteen year old Ellen Davis has some particularly special memories from Horse of the Year. While 2016 was her first year competing, she visited the show as a spectator in 2013 and in 2015. During the 2015 HOY she met a grey pony named Tallyho Mozart who would go on to become her first show jumping pony. Together with Mozart, Davis found herself ready to compete at the big show in 2016 and recalls how nervous she felt beforehand.
“I just love the vibe of HOY and how all the disciplines come together for the week. I also loved working as a photographer there and working alongside some amazing photographers like Libby Law and Kelly Wilson,” Davis describes. Apart from competing, the highlight of 2016 for her was watching a friend compete in the speed slalom event during the Friday Night Extravaganza, and she’s looking forward to her second year competing at the show. “Riding in the Premier Arena is still a goal of mine that I can’t wait to achieve!”
For Natalie Solly, HOY is quickly becoming a family affair. Her two young daughters (pictured) have qualified for their first Horse of the Year in the showing discipline, with Amelia on her pony Waimea First Edition, and Imogen on Coroview Kingston. Solly describes her girls’ excitement at being able to compete at their first HOY – especially considering they have only been back in New Zealand for three years and acquiring their ponies only recently. The girls learned to ride while living in Asia, interacting with ponies in India and Thailand without ever being able to own them. Having their very own ponies was a driving force for the family’s decision to come home to New Zealand, and their mum is very proud that they’ve qualified for HOY after such a short lead up.
“They’re excited, a little bit nervous too! Although maybe that’s more me,” Solly admits – she holds the very serious position of leading her daughters and their ponies in the Lead Rein and Welsh showing sections. It’s a big commitment from the family; they will be travelling all the way from Kerikeri to compete and recently had their trial run at the big showing Nationals down in Fielding.
There’s always been more to the show for equestrians than just competing, of course. Hannah Comrie knows first-hand the amount of work it takes to get competition ready for HOY: for the past three years she’s attended not as a rider nor as a spectator, but as the groom of top dressage competitor Wendi Williamson. In 2016, Comrie felt that she wanted to experience the show as a competitor as well and was able to take her show jumper Peti Peti Spitfire to compete in their first 1.20m. She bounced back and forth from her busy show jumping arenas to where Williamson competed her horses in the dressage. This year, Comrie is planning to stick to her dressage duties with Williamson aiming to compete for the Dressage Horse of the Year title.
If you have a story about your first time at HOY, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo provided by Natalie Solly – credit Julia Dagnall Equestrian Photography
International Flavour at HOY 2017
Horse of the Year is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the southern hemisphere, and as such attracts notable names from all around the globe. 2017 will see international officials from Australia, Japan, Germany and the Philippines.
Dressage is one of the biggest disciplines showcased at the show, with the likes of Julie Brougham and John Thompson raising the section’s profile around the world with their international achievements. This year 4* FEI judge Jane Ventura flies in from Victoria, Australia, bringing with her recent experience from large shows in Tokyo, France, Italy and Spain. Incredibly passionate about dressage, Ventura has judged in Australia for more than 30 years and has begun to lend her time to educating future judges. The dressage section is also welcoming Vittorio Barba from the Philippines as part of their team of officials as well as Susie Hoevenaars as a judge.
In eventing again officials are hailing from all corners. A technical delegate and a steward – both very important roles on the officials team – are both flying in from Japan, and in several years will both be reprising their roles at the 2020 Olympic Games. Sukhdev Rathore will be visiting from India to take part in judging the eventing, though he often takes on other official roles in his work across India.
The showing discipline will also see judges flying in from the UK and from Australia. Though showing is big in New Zealand through frequent and popular A&P shows, it’s also a very popular discipline across the ditch as well as in the UK and parts of Europe. David Bartram and Chris Lawton have a long trip from the UK while Di and Harry Tunnicliffe will take part as the Australian judges.
Competitor wise, as always it’s unlikely that only Kiwis will be left to contest the impressive prizes on offer. Several top Australian show jumpers are proving interested at flying their horses over to take part, including recent Olympic candidates. Following Clarke Johnstone’s success at the Rio Olympics after his win in the 3* Eventing Horse of the Year title in 2016, there have been rumours that some Australian eventers are also keen to give the big title a crack. The popular mounted games section has also attracted interest from foreigners, teams coming from Australia and the United States to compete. While nothing is ever certain with horses, an international pool of riders always adds a bit of interest and creates a bit of mysterious competition amongst the riders.
International course designer Werner Deeg returns from Germany to build the big tracks jumped in the Premier Arena. His first trip to design at Horse of the Year was in 2016 and he came away pleased with the quality of the show, and of the horses and riders. Likewise, those who rode his courses enjoyed the challenge, with six days of exciting competition unfolding for the show. With previous experience at the European Championships and Spruce Meadows, Deeg boasts an impressive CV. Key to him is that the course reflects the horse’s natural movement, making his courses technical yet ground covering and jumped off a fairly forward stride.
Vittorio Barba – International Dressage Judge