NZ Horse of the Year Show Underway
NZ Horse of the Year Show Underway
All roads lead to Hawke's Bay as the mighty 2013 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show gets underway today (Tuesday).
It's being billed as one of the best-ever, with more than 2600 horses and riders from both sides of the Tasman battling it out for top honours in 18 disciplines in 28 arenas over the coming six days.
An exciting addition to the show this year is the NRM Mounted Games World Team Championship which has attracted teams from 10 countries.
Highlights are expected to be many, including the second of the Mitavite Trans Tasman Test Series in the $50,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Silver Fern Stakes in the Hawke's Bay Today Friday Night Extravaganza, the Bell Tea three star eventing cross country on Saturday, the world mounted games final as part of the Radio Network Saturday Night Variety Show, the GJ Gardner Homes Dressage Kur on Sunday afternoon followed by Sir Mark Todd competing in the BetaVet New Zealand Speed Horse of the Year and the jewel in the crown – the $200,000 JB Olympic Cup.
Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) – the queen of Olympic Cups is sitting on a four-peat but will face some serious opposition from a record-sized field, half of which are from Australia.
The Aussies are in fine form already – the senior team is one-up in the test series, and much of the Long White Cloud Tour prize money is already banked across the Tasman.
However, HOY show director Kevin Hansen is backing a Kiwi to take the historic crown.
Wednesday's Virbac VetSearch Norwood Gold Cup is the first 'big' class of the show and most prestigious to win. That's followed on Thursday by the Bayer New Zealand Lady Rider of the Year, the Dunstan Young Rider of the Year on Friday, and the Farmlands Pony of the Year crown awarded on Saturday. Paralympians Rachel Stock (Pokeno) and Anthea Gunner (Christchurch) are both competing.
“This is going to be one heck of a show,” says Hansen. “There is just so much to see and be entertained by.”
Thursday evening's Hall of Fame Gala Dinner is a complete sell-out, with all 350 tickets flying out the door on the back of the news that Sir Mark Todd will be guest speaker.
There's plenty of excitement too that veteran broadcaster Mark Sainsbury will be doing the on the couch interview with Sir Mark Todd – from all sides of the stage.
“I have done a few interviews over the years with Mark and think he is an amazing guy – it's a lesson to us all that you can keep on doing stuff for years.”
Sainsbury describes Sir Mark as a “rock star of the equine world” and “one of those people who it is always good to hear from”.
“Everyone admires him greatly and it's a matter of what else can we learn about him – especially since the knighthood.”
Sainsbury, who recently finished presenting TVNZ's nightly current affairs programme, has 31 years experience in broadcasting.
“I'm not ready to give it away yet either,” he says. “We can all take some inspiration from Mark.”
It will be an informal interview at a rather formal evening affair, that will also include inductions to the Hall of Fame. The annual dinner is a chance to toast those who have impressed and inspired Horse of the Year competitors and spectators, but just who it will be is always a closely-guarded secret.
Cure Kids, the chosen charity for the 2013 Horse of the Year Show, will be holding an auction during the evening.
More that 75,000 people are expected through the gates over the coming days. Behind the scenes it is a mammoth effort from the 400-plus volunteers who work tirelessly to make it all happen.
The show pumps an estimated $12.5 million into the Hawke's Bay economy each year.