Fourteen of Australia’s best showjumpers have confirmed they will travel to New Zealand early next year to vie for big prizemoney on offer at Dunedin’s Ride The Rhythm event.
The Aussies have the chance to take on the best of the Kiwi riders in both the $50,000 McMillan Feeds Super Grand Prix and the $70,000 GJ Gardner Homes Puissance, on February 1 at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The huge interest had meant the grand prix would be split into two sections with all horses able to qualify for the second round.
Recent FEI World Cup Australian League winner Alison Rowland, from Perth, Western Australia, leads the Aussie onslaught with her nine-year-old Brickley Brook Bella.
Rowland rides for Equestrian Australia High Performance Chairman Peter Cook, and together with fellow West Australian Rory Hovell, the pair are bringing a big team to New Zealand as their first stop of a world tour aiming to qualify for the Australian team for the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janero.
They will head to England directly from Auckland following the Horse of the Year show in March. Horvell’s top ride is the imported stallion, Yalambi’s Val D’Isere VDL.
Another making the long journey from WA is young rider Evie Buller with Yalambi’s Landor. Buller was a member of the winning Australian team that competed in the Mitavite Trans-Tasman team’s two-test series last year. She was the best performed Australian rider at the Horse of the Year Show in 2012, finishing third in the Lady Rider of the Year, third in the Silver Fern Stakes and third in the Olympic Cup. Buller also finished second in the FEI World Cup Australian League standings, just behind Rowland.
Joining Buller is Trans-Tasman 2012 teammate Jamie Winning (NSW) as well as Jamie Kermod (NSW), and Queenslanders Paula Hamood and Billy Raymont, all familiar faces in New Zealand.
Completing the line-up are several riders making their first appearance in New Zealand including Mark Lindh (SA) Merrick Ubank (Qld), Sam Williams (Vic), Sarah Isbister (WA), Tyrone Latham (Qld), Nicole Bruggemann (SA) and Sharon Slater (NSW). London Olympian Matt Williams may also make the trip.
The Australians will have their work cut out against an all-star Kiwi line-up which includes Olympians Katie McVean, Maurice Beatson and Samantha McIntosh, each with two horses apiece, as well as leading South Island hopes Cantabrians Ross Smith, Tegan Fitszimon, Kate Cavanagh and Susie Hayward as well as locals Brittany Whelan and Claudia Hay, amongst others.
The equestrian action will complete a night of music and entertainment, which gets under way at the Forsyth Barr Stadium at 3.30pm. Following the Grand Prix, iconic UK band The Hollies will take to the stage as part of their 50th anniversary tour with two hours of hits.