Olympians Headline 2017 Horse of the Year

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

What not to Miss

20 Feb

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Categories: Feb 2016


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There is so much to see at the 2016 Farmlands Horse of the Year Show. This is the event everyone works towards all season long. Competitors come from all over the country, and some from Australia, to battle it out for supremacy.


Here are our picks of what NOT to miss.


The Norwood Gold Cup
This historic trophy is the first of the big events at HOY and starts at 1.30pm on Wednesday in the Land Rover Premier Arena. Most of those who will start in Sunday’s Olympic Cup use this as a warm-up class. The perennial Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) is the most successful rider of the cup, having won the class four times.


Norwood Gold Cup. Photo by Libby Law Photography

The Friday Night Extravaganza
The extravaganza has become a tradition for Hawke’s Bay people – starring this year is the very talented extreme free rider Alycia Burton. The extravaganza starts with the CSI2* McMillans Silver Fern Stakes – the second richest class of the show with a $46,000 prize purse.


People’s Day
Saturday is People’s Day at HOY. It’s all about the very exciting cross country phase of the eventing competition. Get there early for the 1.30pm start to ensure you have good seats for the heart-stopping action. Horses and riders jump an international cross country track that meanders throughout the showgrounds. Included in the line-up is Rio Olympic hopeful Clarke Johnstone and his lovely Balmoral Sensation. VIP packages are available through Tickets.

The VIP area for the cross country is the spot to be. Photo by Libby Law Photography

The VIP area for the cross country is the spot to be. Photo by Libby Law Photography

The Olympic Cup
Nothing compares to the prestige of winning the Olympic Cup. It is awarded to the New Zealand Showjumper of the Year and carries with it a $116,000 prize purse. This year, as an internationally-ranked CSI2* class, it also gives valuable rider ranking points to competitors. The two round competition starts at 2pm on Sunday in the Land Rover Premier Arena.

Claudia Hay and Euro Sport Centavos en route to winning the Olympic Cup last year. Photo by Libby Law Photography

Claudia Hay and Euro Sport Centavos en route to winning the Olympic Cup last year. Photo by Libby Law Photography

Freestyle Dressage to Music
Be entranced by the beauty of dressage to music. Top-billing in the CDI3* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle are Rio Olympic hopefuls Julie Brougham aboard Vom Feinsten and John Thompson on JHT Antonello, amongst a star-studded field. The class starts at 12.30pm on Sunday.

Australian visitor Jeremy Janjic and his Friesan stallion Django of Cacharel competing at the 2015 show. Photo by Libby Law PHotography

Australian visitor Jeremy Janjic and his Friesan stallion Django of Cacharel competing at the 2015 show. Photo by Libby Law PHotography

The Social Side of HOY
Make sure you leave time to enjoy a little retail therapy, with more than 8000 square metres of shops around the main competition arenas. A new wine village, handily placed ringside to the Land Rover Premier Arena, is the perfect spot to take in the sights.


There’s plenty of shopping to be done at HOY. Photo by Libby Law Photography