All roads lead to Puhinui
The absence of our Olympic riders will create an opportunity for 13 well performed national competitors to grab the big title this weekend at the Puhinui International Three-day Event at the Puhinui Reserve on the Manakau harbour. Not that our Olympians will be absent – many will be at Puhinui coaching up and coming riders hoping to follow in their footsteps.
The top class, the Honda New Zealand CCI3* has attracted a quality field of 13 combinations with 3 travelling up from the South Island. Two riders have two rides each – Donna Edwards-Smith and Sam Felton, neither of whom has won the prestigious title before. Last year Samantha finished 5th on Ricker Ridge Divine Right and Donna 6th on DSE Cluny and both will be out to take top honours with their returning horses. Previous winner Matthew Grayling, who won here in 2013 will be out to stop them with his lovely grey horse NRM Trudeau.
But the South Island will be hoping for a southern victory with last year’s 2nd place getter returning to the fray. Emily Cammock and Shaw Lee have just arrived back in New Zealand after competing in the Adelaide 4* event where an early slip up on the cross country cut short their weekend. And in form Corey Wood returns with Pick Up Line who was 3rd last year. On their way north Corey and Pick Up Line scored a good win in Wellington last weekend and will be hoping their form continues.
Special guests for the weekend are the power couple of Eventing, Tim and Jonelle Price, who are making a short trip home with 1 year old Otis. In equestrian sport men and women compete on equal terms so while Tim is ranked third in the world rankings Jonelle is currently 7th having been just one place behind Tim last month. They return to the UK in January to do battle for that coveted Number 1 spot!
A surprise visitor to Puhinui this year is the youngest of the Irish team at the recent World Equestrian Games in South Carolina. Twenty two year old Cathal Daniels won a team silver medal after a great performance from the whole Irish team. Cathal, who arrives in New Zealand on Tuesday, has his sights set on finding a horse (or two!) to compete on at the lower levels in the next few days.
180 Competitors in the other grades will also be competing for the three day titles and looking forward to tackling the work of new cross country course designer Ewan Kellett from Australia. Proceedings get under way on Friday with the dressage phase, followed on Saturday by cross country and show jumping on Sunday.