This weekend’s CIC3* class at the BNZ Kihikihi Horse Trials will be crucial to the standings in New Zealand Eventing’s Super League, as no dominant combination has yet emerged in the year-long series.
With only three events left before the final, the NRM National Three-day Event at Taupo on 16-18 May, a top scoring performance will be essential in order to feature in the final line up.
Fifteen of the country’s top eventers are set to battle it out over John Nicholson’s iconic cross-country course, widely regarded as 3* “plus” and the toughest in the country. Last year’s winner and current Super League leader Dannie Lodder on Petra Eatson’s Moochi will be pulling out all the stops in defence of the title, and hoping to establish the elusive breakaway in the Super League which will make it hard for others to close the gap.
2010 World Equestrian Games team bronze medalist and Eventer of the Year, Clarke Johnstone will be the one to beat on Balmoral Sensation, recently bought from Donna Smith, and forming a winning partnership with Johnstone at the NRM Horse of the Year Show after only two months together.
Smith will ride Balmoral Tangolooma, the current National Three-day Event champion, and is sure to provide keen competition, while the National One-day Event title holder, Angela Lloyd and Song, will also be hoping for another good result. Samantha Felton, who impressed at her first 3* appearance on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo at the Horse of the Year, will be endeavouring to consolidate on that form.
High Performance Accelerator Squad member Joe Waldron, who recently transferred his base from Melbourne to Te Awamutu, will also be trying to impress on Springvale All Black. They were second at Kihikihi two years ago on a previous campaign in New Zealand, when Waldron was a member of the NZ Young Rider team which defeated their Australian counterparts at Christchurch, Waldron winning the individual title.
Depending on their performances at Kihikihi, several of these riders will contest the Sydney Three-day Event at the 2000 Olympic venue of Horsley Park later in the month, and a top performance there could see a trip to the UK with selection for the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy later in the year on the cards.
At the sub-elite level, the selectors will be watching the performance of the Young Riders in the CIC2* class, with a squad to be named following the South Island Three-day Event a week later, to train for the defence of the Oceania (formerly Trans-Tasman) Young Rider Three-day Event at Melbourne in June.
The CIC2* has attracted almost double the entries from last year.
The winner of the 3* will receive the inaugural Bounce Trophy, being presented by Vaughn Jefferis in honour of his superstar Olympic and world champion horse. Several combinations have made no secret of their desire to be the first to win the prestigious trophy.
New on the card is a fun teams event which will run alongside the national and international classes.
So there is much at stake, and exciting competition is assured. Live scoring will be in operation, with the dressage on Friday, cross-country on Saturday, and show-jumping on Sunday.