Central & Southern Hawkes Bay Eventing's annual spring horse trials take place at the Silver Fern Farms property, Arran Station, Takapau, this weekend and will host the second leg of the Bell Tea Super League.
Owhango's Ashleigh McKinstry, who took the lead on her part-bred Kaimanawa, Pioneer Makokomiko, after winning the Fiber Fresh Advanced class at Taupo a fortnight ago, will be hoping to add to her tally, having won the Advanced class there two years ago. This talented young rider and her amazing little horse also lead the Massey University Young Rider series.
Ohaupo's Jessica Woods, also a young rider, who won the Red Snap'r Advanced class at Takapau on Too Predictable last year, will be trying to repeat the feat against some of the country's most experienced riders, including former internationals Bryce Newman of Bulls, on Bates Trademark, and New Plymouth's Heelan Tompkins on Cortaflex Up'N'Go and Cortaflex Ski Whistler.
Another to watch is Waipukurau rider Monica Oakley, who has nursed her horse Fontain back from a severe, career-threatening paddock injury, to look as promising as ever. Despite missing the autumn season, they have moved seamlessly up to Advanced level, placing fourth at Taupo, and will be hoping to improve at their home event.
Mary Darby's cross-country course has been given a fresh new look this year with input from Helensville's Chris Ross, who is seeking international accreditation by working on recognised courses throughout the country. The philosophy of the Arran Station event is that horse and rider benefit from the experience they gain by competing there.
A total of 11 classes cater for all levels from Pre-training through to Advanced, with age-group classes at the lower levels, which are well supported by local competitors. The Training and Pre-training classes will do all three phases (dressage, showjumping, and cross-country) on Sunday, with all other classes doing their dressage and showjumping on Saturday and cross-country on Sunday.
Spectator viewing is excellent, and this is a great way to witness the excitement of this Olympic sport.
McKinstry and Woods were members of the successful NZ Young Rider team which defeated Australia last year, so could well be Olympians of the future. Entry is free, but dogs are not permitted.