Olympic Cup in Olympic Year Arkins’ Goal
Olympic Cup in Olympic Year Arkins’ Goal
James Arkins has unfinished business at the Farmlands Horse of the Year Show.
The 24-year-old Aussie raider is already making his presence felt on this side of the Tasman, winning both of his starts amongst some pretty smart company in Auckland and Hamilton.
However, it’s the big prize he has his sights on, aboard his Kiwi bred warmblood/thoroughbred cross Rosthwaite Vigilante II (by Voltaire).
He is one of 1400 riders heading to Hastings for the 64th Horse of the Year Show. More than 50,000 spectators are expected over the six days, where they will see the very best in New Zealand battle it out for the most prestigious crowns and their share of around $300,000 in prize money.
Included in the line-ups are Rio Olympic hopefuls John Thompson and Julie Brougham in the dressage, and Clarke Johnstone in the eventing.
Arkins also has his eye on making the Australian team for Rio. It’s a big year for him, who hails from just outside of Sydney. While it is the Olympic Cup he wants to claim here, it is the Olympic Games he hopes to be at later this year.
This will be Arkins third time at HOY – he’s started in the Olympic Cup before but not won a ribbon. His first visit to HOY in 2012 saw him place second in the Young Rider of the Year class on the back of a very successful Long White Cloud Tour. He returned in 2014 for his début show with Rosthwaite.
But this year – he figures – is different.
“I want to win the Olympic Cup and Silver Fern Stakes and completely believe the horse is good enough to do it,” says Arkins.
The prize money on offer – $116,000 and $46,000 respectively – would go a long way to helping with his fast-approaching European campaign.
“The money would be great, but winning the Olympic Cup is something you would carry with you for a long time. This is the biggest and richest event in the Southern Hemisphere and that counts for a lot.”
His efforts in the Australian FEI World Cup Series, in which he finished second overall and placed constantly throughout the season, have earned him a spot at the final in Sweden in March, along with an invite to the very prestigious 5* Saut Hermes au Grand Palais Show in the middle of Paris.
He estimates the European campaign will cost around $150,000, and it comes with a mix of emotions.
“I am excited but there is also a fair amount of uncertainty,” he says. “There is the stress of going off to do something I have never done before. So many people tell you different things but I need to work out what is best for us without knowing what is ahead.
“I am leaving everything behind at home where things are going so well and I have everything at my fingertips.”
He was planning on just taking Rosthwaite Vigilante but is now considering taking a second mount.
But in the short term he’s firmly focused on HOY.
And while he may carry an Aussie passport, there is more Kiwi in this camp than first meets the eye. His trainer is former world champ Vaughn Jefferis, who he has been staying with since he arrived here several weeks ago.
“He has been the most influential person in my career,” says Arkins, “and is an incredible mentor to me.”
And it was Jefferis who found Rosthwaite Vigilante for him.
The two met in 2012 when Arkins first crossed the Tasman to compete, but it wasn’t until 2014 he got the horse. Jefferis had seen it as a five-year-old and been impressed.
“He looked amazing,” said Jefferis. “I saw him again as a seven-year-old and we bought him.”
The horse was turned out and when he came back into work he reinforced Jefferis’ belief in him.
“He has turned out just as good as I thought he would be. He is one of the nicest horses I have ever sourced for a client over the years, and James and Vigilante are the perfect match. We certainly haven’t see the best of these two yet.”
Jefferis will accompany Arkins and Vigilante to Europe for the early part of their Rio campaign.
Arkins will be saving the 10-year-old for the big classes at HOY, doing a warm-up on the Tuesday, the McMillan Silver Fern States on the Friday and the Olympic Cup on the Sunday.
“Hopefully this will be the perfect lead in to Europe for us,” says Arkins.
WHAT: Farmlands Horse of the Year Show
WHEN: March 1-6, 2016
WHERE: Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds
TICKETS AND INFO: www.hoy.kiwi
Diana Dobson HOY Media Liaison 021 222 0145