Dozens of horses and riders from around the country are flocking to Christchurch this weekend for the South Island Three Day Event, the final competition on the southern eventing calendar.
For many it will be a chance to secure qualification scores for the NRM National Three Day Event in Taupo next month.
Among the classes being fought out are the National Young Rider Three Day Event Championship in the CCI2*, and the National Junior Rider Three Day Event Championship CCI1*.
Paraparaumu’s Tayla Mason returns again looking to defend the National Young Rider Three Day Event Championship title she won here last year with Lucy With Diamonds. She will come up against Kate Fleming (Pauatahanui) on Mendelssohn with both riders looking to put in an eye-catching performance in front of the national selectors ahead of the selection of the New Zealand’s Young Rider Oceania team which travels to Melbourne in June.
The pair will come up against some stiff opposition for individual class honours from Joseph Waldron, who is now based back in Te Awamutu after spending most of his life in Australia, riding Ristretto and sole local contender Amberley’s Giles Gormack on Lucero.
A strong field of 17 will do battle in the Devi Heating Systems CCI1*, headed by five local combinations vying for the coveted Lenamore Trophy for the National Junior Rider Three Day champion, in a field otherwise dominated by North Islanders. Tokoroa’s Sarah Young on Regal Romar will also be looking for junior honours as well as a CCI1*qualifying score so they too will be eligible for young rider selection.
The CIC3* has attracted a field of just four with Benjamin Bateman (Palmerston North) on Façade and Sarah Dalziell (Masterton) on Benrose Super Star coming up against local hopes Sam Taylor (Swanannoa), who is reunited with Leo Degas, and Susie Stewart (Rangiora) on Cowboy on debut at this level. Points are also up for grabs in the Super League, but a win here will have little effect on series leader Clarke Johnstone, who shot to the top of the leaderboard after winning both BNZ Kihikihi International Horse Trials last weekend and at the NRM Horse of the Year Show.
In a bid to help riders with new qualifications set down by the FEI, Eventing Canterbury added a CIC2* and Striding Edge Sporthorses CNC1* class late in the piece, both of which have attracted small entries.
Competition across the lower levels will be hotly contested with more than 20 battling it out for honours in the CCN105, and 44 in the CCN95. A field of 14 young horses will tackle the 4, 5, & 6 Year Olds CCN95, while 46 line up in the CCN80.
Aside from strong entries from across New Zealand, the event also boasts an international line-up of officials including representatives from Ireland, Thailand and Japan.
It also marks the end of the 2013/2014 Lancaster Feeds/Platinum Performance 4, 5 and 6 Year Old Series, as well as vital points being up for grabs across all ESNZ series including the Super League, Massey University Young Rider, Alltech Junior Rider, AMS-Erreplus Pro Am, Amateur Rider and Weatherbeeta Grassroots series.
The prestigious Saddlery Barn South Island Young Event Horse Championship kicks off the action on Thursday from 1pm.
Dressage gets under way at 9am on Friday, followed by the cross country phase at 9am on Saturday. The event comes to conclusion with the final show jumping scheduled to begin at 9am on Sunday.