Manfeild's equestrian dream realised

March 25, 2011

Manfeild Park has received an overwhelming pass mark as an equestrian facility following the running of the New Zealand dressage championships at the venue.


Louisa Hill on Bates Antonio during the Grand Prix Freestyle event at the Dressage New Zealand Nationals. © Libby Law Photography
The dressage nationals were as much a trial run for Manfeild as for Dressage New Zealand, Manfeild Park Trust chairman Ben Vanderkolk said.

"We both very much wanted this to be a great success - and that's exactly how it turned out.

"Our dream has been to deliver New Zealand's best equestrian sports facility, a journey Manfeild Park Trust started out on in 2004. We knew then what we wanted and now we have achieved it."

Manfeild today has been totally transformed and its backers say they will continue to work with equestrian sports to help raise its profile in New Zealand.

Vanderkolk said the Dressage Nationals delivered the strongest grand prix entry seen in New Zealand.

"Many of the riders used the event in preparation for competing overseas, including for Olympic Games qualifying.

"The feedback we've had from numerous competitors, many of whom knew nothing about Manfeild before they came here, has been very heartening.

"They've been very complimentary about Manfeild, some saying that it is as good as anything they have experienced overseas.

"It's wonderful to hear such praise and it's great, also, that the profile of this sport has been lifted from it being held here."

The nationals, from March 3 to 5, topped off a busy post-Christmas period of dressage at Manfeild that began with a Young Rider Championship, then the Central Districts Regional Championships, both in January.

Previously, the nationals were held outdoors at Taupo but, as with the World Cup showjumping, dressage needed an indoor venue to prepare riders for competing overseas.

There were 150 riders competing, exceeded only by the 200 at the subsequent Horse of the Year Show at Hastings.

The events were hugely significant for the Manawatu region, Vanderkolk said.

"The stadium and our purpose-built outdoor eventing surfaces are the future for Manfeild and are suited to all equestrian disciplines, and we have an expert management team, headed by chief executive Heather Verry, working to highlight this."

In the lead-up to the nationals, Dressage New Zealand had identified Manfeild as having huge potential for equestrian sport, and committed to an ongoing association.

The success of the event has enhanced the probability that the venue will ultimately host international competitions.