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Nail-Biting Finish Beckons for NZ World Cup Final

Nail-Biting Finish Beckons for NZ World Cup Final

It would be a brave person to pick the winner of the Country TV FEI World Cup (NZ series) Final, being hosted on Sunday at Woodhill Sands in Auckland.

New Zealand’s best showjumpers are fighting it out for series honours as well as the right to represent the nation at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2016/2017 Final in Omaha, Nebraska, in the United States, from March 29-April 1, 2017.

Each of the five rounds so far has been won by different combinations, and with points-and-a-half on the line at the Continental Cars Audi World Cup Festival, it is anyone’s game. The four best scores count for the series.

Helen McNaught-McFarlane (Taupo) and her quirky Polish import Carnutelabryere are at the top of the leaderboard, but the Brit is the first to say it’s a challenging field.

Shining bright have been a number of younger stars including Lily Tootill (Auckland) and Ulysses NZPH winning the penultimate round in Dannevirke at the weekend, and Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) aboard Biarritz taking the honours at Feilding.

They will be two to watch, as will Emily Hayward-Morgan (Te Awamutu), aboard AP Ninja. At 17, Hayward-Morgan is only just old enough to start in the class, and placed a gutsy fourth on début at Dannevirke. She plans to keep her head down and just ride her own course at Woodhill Sands, preferring to treat it like “just another class”.

McNaught-McFarlane and Carnutelabryere have twice finished second to Laurie in the World Cup series, but did win the final last year and are the current holders of the Olympic Cup as New Zealand Showjumper of the Year.

“I would really like to win the series and the final,” she said. “He normally likes Woodhill – it’s a great show and he’s feeling in good form.”

The combination has started each of the five rounds so far, with a win, two seconds and a third to their credit.

“The class is pretty much open at Woodhill and it is great to see the younger riders doing so well – they have really deserved those wins and placings. Most of Sunday’s field will be going in pretty confident after Dannevirke . . . so anything could happen.”

Five-time series winner Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) will be hoping she saved her best for last. She will start Dunstan Breeze, but will toss up between Dunstan On The Point Eve and Dunstan Casebrooke Lomond closer to the time.

Breeze is an old hand at this level, and Laurie won most of her World Cup classes last season on the mare.

“It’s going to be some final,” she said. “It’s been a while since it has been this exciting.”

Lucy Fell (Opiki) will compete aboard Tinapai, who at 18 is undoubtedly the oldest in the field – but someone forgot to tell him. The sprightly and tricky former racehorse won the opening round of the World Cup series and has been super consistent for his doting rider, rarely out of the money. The combination sits in second equal spot with Tootill on the leaderboard.

“He is just an amazing horse,” says Fell. “He is feeling so good and it’s exciting to be having such a good season.”

They placed third in the series last season, and Fell is hoping for another ribbon.

“I take it day by day with him because of his age, and he is very well managed. Tinapai only comes out for the World Cups but that shows what a special horse he is, to be able to perform like he does.”

She has no plans on retiring Tinapai just yet.

“He will tell me when he is ready. . . and it is not just yet.”

Meanwhile still on a high from her win at Dannevirke, Tootill and Ulysses NZPH have been having a few conversations about the weekend ahead.

“I spent about an hour just sitting in the paddock with him (Ulysses NZPH) this morning . . . he is such a good boy,” she said.

The horse will have a bit of an easy week in his lead up to Sunday’s final.

Morrison and Biarritz are well in the mix and looking forward to competing at the European-feeling show where the top courses will be set by British designer Peter Gillespie.

“I do love it there,” says Morrison. “It is always well run and great underfoot.”

She says she couldn’t ask for any more from her chestnut horse, who will do a little resistance training at the beach as his build-up.

“The only thing holding us back is me getting my head in the right place!”

Also on the card on Sunday are Natasha Brooks (Cambridge) and Kapattack, who won the Taupo round, William Willis (Auckland) aboard Dollar Roll MS, Carissa McCall (Auckland) aboard Esteban MVNZ, sisters Vicki and Amanda Wilson aboard Ngahiwi Showtym Premier and Showtym Cassanova, Samantha Peters (Northland) on Zabambi, Mathew Dickey (Taranaki) on Quango and Glen Beal (Auckland) on Sacramento.

The grand final of the prestigious World Cup series is being hosted by Show Jumping Waitemata at Woodhill Sands in Auckland. A record 600-plus entries have been received for the three day Continental Cars Audi World Cup Festival.

The show will be live streamed at http://jxsport.tv/ .

Country TV FEI World Cup (NZ series) points – best four rounds to count: Helen McNaught-McFarlane (Taupo) 69 points, Lucy Fell (Opiki) and Lily Tootill (Auckland) 57, Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) 53, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 46, Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) 45, Carissa McCall (Auckland) 38, Mathew Dickey (Taranaki) 35, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 34, Tess Clark (Gisborne) 30, Samantha Peters (Northland) 24, Natasha Brooks (Cambridge) 24.

What: Continental Cars Audi World Cup Festival, hosted by Show Jumping Waitemata

Why: The final of the Country TV World Cup (NZ series) on Sunday, January 15, 2017

When: January 13-15, 2017

Where: Woodhill Sands, Auckland

For more information: www.sjwaitemata.co.nz or follow on Facebook at Continental Cars Audi World Cup Final 2017

Live streaming: http://jxsport.tv/

ends


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