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Thousands Enjoy Inaugural Rwts in Hamilton

Thousands Enjoy Inaugural RWTS in Hamilton

Rio dressage hopeful John Thompson danced his way to victory at the inaugural Riding with the Stars in Hamilton tonight while honours in the showjumping went to the Australians . . . riding New Zealand bred horses.

The two fields, vying for a slice of the $16,000 prize purse, included top combinations from both sides of the Tasman, with all riders keen to come back for more to an event that looks set to change equestrian entertainment for the future.

Twelve combinations started the two round grand prix over a tight Gerrit Beker-designed course. The only clears in the first round came from James Arkins (AUS) aboard the New Zealand bred Rosthewiate Vigilante II, crowd favourite Amanda Wilson (Hikurangi) aboard Showtym Cassanova and Clem Smith (AUS) on his Kiwi bred horse Delilah.

The second round against the clock saw just Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) and Ngahiwi Showtym Premier leave all the rails up but she collected a single time fault for her care.

Running in reverse order, it came down to Smith – riding a horse bred by Katie Laurie – to go clear to take the win but it wasn’t to be as the first of the double came crashing down.

However, he had nothing but praise for the event.

Arkins, whose horse is by New Zealand stallion Voltaire II and bred by Cherie Robinson, said he worried his second round rail had cost him the win.

“I thought Clem or Vicki would catch me,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to come here and win. It was a really lovely track out there, and flowed well. The second round being a lot bigger suited my horse as he’s very scopey.”

The 24-year-old is in New Zealand for a month and will compete at the Farmlands Horse of the Year Show, before heading to France to try and make the Australian team for the Rio Olympics.

The dressage freestyle to music featured everything from classical to rock with a little bit of 1980s thrown in for good measure.

Hometown hero John Thompson (Hamilton) and JHT Antonello wowed the crowd with their exuberance and were rewarded for their efforts with 71.87%.

Much weighed on the shoulders of Brett Parbery (AUS) and his young horse PPH Zeppelin but a few costly mistakes saw them finish second with 68.8%.

For Thompson, it was a particularly sweet victory – just 10 weeks ago he nearly lost the horse to colic, but last weekend won the New Zealand National Dressage crown and are just two marks away from getting their necessary qualifying scores to make them available for selection for Rio.

“This is what our sport is all about,” said Thompson.

Parbery and Rozzie Ryan (AUS) both said how thrilled they were to part of the inaugural event.
“This is the future of equestrian,” said Parbery.

During the show it was also announced Equitana would be coming to New Zealand – the international equestrian event will be held November 16-19, 2017 in Auckland.

RWTS event director Andrew Hansen said to bring such a calibre of event back to the centre of Auckland was “critical for the development of the sport in New Zealand and Australia”.

“We are very excited to be expanding the Equitana brand that is so strong throughout Australia and the rest of the world,” said Hansen, who is also Equitana Auckland general manager.

“Tonight has been a revelation in equestrian entertainment – the support from the equestrian community, riders, grooms and the heart of the sport has been second to none.”

Equitana is a wrap of entertainment, education, competition and shopping, and will run over four days at the ASB Showgrounds.

Results –
Showjumping: James Arkins (AUS) Rosthwaite Vigilante II 1, Clem Smith (AUS) Delilah 2, Vicki Wilson (Hikurangi) Ngahiwi Showtym Premier 3, Helen McNaught-McFarlane (Taupo) Carnutelabryere 4, Vicki Roycroft (AUS) Congo Z 5, Amanda Wilson (Hikurangi) Showtym Cassanova.
Dressage – freestyle to music: John Thompson (Hamilton) JHT Antonello 1, Brett Parbery (AUS) PPH Zeppelin 2, Abbie Deken (New Plymouth) KH Ambrose 3, Anya Noble (Hamilton) Airthrey Highlander 4, Jody Hartstone (Raglan) Ali Baba 5, Rozzie Ryan (AUS) Jarrah R 6.

ENDS

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