A new-look cross-country course will greet riders at this weekend’s Central & Southern Hawkes Bay Eventing’s annual spring horse trials at Arran Station in Takapau.
The cross-country course on the Silver Fern Farms property has a whole new look with the fresh ideas of Masterton course designer Hamish Cameron, who was appointed after Mary Darby’s resignation last year after 15 years as the designer.
During that time her courses helped establish Arran Station as one of the premier events in the NorthIsland, with riders from throughout the country competing there.
So Cameron has big boots to fill, but is excited about the opportunity of continuing to develop the course, with the same culture of creating a challenge that is also a learning experience for horse and rider. There are now six levels catered for at Arran Station, from 80cm (Pre-training) through to 3* (formerly known as Advanced).
Run on the Saturday and Sunday of Labour weekend, the dressage and lower level show-jumping will take place on Saturday and the top level showjumping and all the cross-country on Sunday.
The 14 strong Red Snap’r 3* class is part of the ESNZ Eventing Super League, and is the third one (and biggest so far) in the year-long series, the first two being at Taupo and Christchurch on 12/13 October. Hans Dresel of Red Snap’r is a loyal sponsor, saying, “I love being involved, this is my big one for the year.”
This 3* class will provide Monica Oakley and Fontain with their last start before flying to Australia for the Adelaide CCI 4* event, one of only six 4* events in the world, and the only one in the southern hemisphere. Her supporters are fund-raising at the event by running a burger and sausage sizzle, as well as providing coffee, so no-one needs to pack a picnic.
In addition to the Super League, all classes at the event will earn points for eligible riders in the respective eventing series, which cater for every level. The Weatherbeeta Grassroots is a new series this year, for riders at the lower levels, and has attracted a massive following, as the sport benefits from the interest sparked by the success of the NZ eventers in the UK.
There is also the Alltech Junior Rider, Massey University Young Rider, and AMS-Erreplus Pro-Am Rider, as well as the Amateur Rider series. There are many locals among the 200 plus entries, mostly participating in the lower levels, but a sprinkling filtering through into the higher classes. As always, there are riders stepping up a level, as Arran Station has earned a reputation for providing technical challenges without frightening horse or rider.