New Zealand National Jumping and Show Hunter Championships
When: February 6-9
Where: National Equestrian Centre Mcleans Island, Christchurch
McVean poised to add more silverware
Coming off the back of a decisive win indoors at Ride The Rhythm in Dunedin last weekend, Katie McVean looks set to add the McMillan Equine Feeds NZ Senior Horse Championship at the Nationals in Christchurch to her already impressive trophy haul this season.
A class dominated by three-time winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) and My Gollywog in recent years, last year’s event went to Australian Billy Raymont aboard stardom. McVean last won the coveted Rutherford Cup with her star World Championships mount Dunstan Delphi (since sold) in 2010, but that looks set to change.
McVean will start stable stars Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark, winner of the $50,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Super Grand Prix with at Ride The Rhythm at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and Dunstan Springfield, with whom she won the Bayer World Cup (NZ League) Final at Woodhill Sands last month, in the competition.
Spread over three days of gruelling competition with penalties accumulating, the national championships are like none other.
Competition in the McMillan Equine Feeds NZ Senior Horse Championship and Fiber Fresh One Star Horse Grand Prix starts on Thursday evening (February 6) at the NEC McLeans Island with the all-important speed rounds set by top Australian course designer John Vallance, while the rest of the championship classes get underway on Friday along with the second rounds of the two big classes. Competition continues Saturday (except for the two big classes who have a rest day) right through to the final rounds on Sunday.
McVean comes up against a strong line-up which includes Beatson with the evergreen, My Gollywog, in search of his fourth title win, as well Schimmel Warrior and Conyers, top local Canterbury hope Susie Hayward (Rakaia) and Andretti, Claudia Hay (Mosgiel) and Euro Sport Centavos, and young rider Logan Massie (Dannevirke) and Kiwi Ludo. Both Hay and Massie’s horses are new to this level, but continue to impress.
McVean also heads the line-up for the Fiber Fresh One Star Horse Grand Prix Championship with rising stars Dunstan Banderas and Dunstan Lucca. Boasting a strong field of 21 starters, no less than 14 combinations hail from the North Island. Along with McVean and Beatson, sisters Vicki and Amanda Wilson (Hikurangi), and husband and wife-duo Simon and Claire Wilson (Waipukurau), will also be tough to beat.
Perhaps one of the toughest to pick will be The Press Country TV Open Pony Championship with 10 of the top South Island pony combinations eyeing the trophy ahead of Taupo’s pint-sized super star and sole North Island entry Briar Burnett-Grant with Mighty Maximus and Pioneer Jade.
The grand prix pony competition has been tough old battle all season in the south with a number of combinations vying for top-honours. Between newly crowned North Island and defending champion Steffi Whittaker (Halswell) on Moonlight Glow, Ashburton riders Lucinda Askin on Totem and Buckle Up and Jamiee Bird on Showtym Image, GJ Gardner High Jump winner Molly Buist-Brown (Templeton) on Miss Mae West, and Broadfields’ Lucy Turner on speed demon Tallyho Mystic, it’s a wide-open contest.
Strong entries have also been fielded in the June Cresswell Memorial 1.30m NZ Horse Championship, Zilco 1.20m NZ Horse Championship, Dancing Water Wine 1.10m NZ Horse Championship and Rainer Irrigation Ashburton 1.10m NZ Pony Championship, as well as national age group series classes, other series classes and non-championship events.
The showhunter competition has also been well-supported with two rings operating over all three days. It also has a strong northern flavour, with a number of North Island competitors down to compete.
Entry to the National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island is FREE. Food and refreshments are available on the grounds.