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All roads lead to Hawke’s Bay this week for the most prestigious equestrian event in New Zealand which gets underway today.
The Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds in Hastings have been turned into a small town as thousands descend on the region for the six day Horse of the Year Show.
More than 7600 entries have been received from riders and owners from the length and breadth of the country, as well as showjumpers from Australia and mounted games competitors from the United States.
And it will be enjoyed by many, with more than 60,000 people expected at the show over the coming days.
Competition covers showjumping, dressage, show hunter, eventing, showing, mounted games, para-equestrian, pleasure and more – all vying for ‘of the year’ titles.
The jewel in the crown of the show though is surely the Olympic Cup, being held on Sunday afternoon, where the very best showjumpers go head to head, chasing the most sought-after of titles.
It is but one of a number of highlights over the week. Wednesday afternoon’s Norwood Gold Cup is the first of the ‘big’ classes of the show. The historic cup was first presented in 1967 and has since been won by many of the nation’s top riders.
Thursday’s Lady Rider of the Year is another very special crown that in recent years has been dominated by Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek).
Who will be honoured at the Cape Kidnappers’ Hall of Fame Cocktail Party, being held on Thursday evening? It’s always a closely-guarded secret, but one much-anticipated by the equestrian fraternity.
The 2* and 3* eventing dressage starts on Thursday, followed by the showjumping on Friday and the very exciting cross country on Saturday. Included in the 2* field is New Zealand’s best-placed eventer at the Rio Olympic Games, Clarke Johnstone.
The Hastings Heart of Hawke’s Bay Friday Night Extravaganza is always entertainment at its best, and this year promises to be no different.
The country’s top young pony riders take centre stage on Saturday afternoon for the Pony of Year showjumping class.
Dressage also brings its A game, with the beauty of musical freestyle always a crowd favourite. The best combinations will compete on Sunday afternoon, but there are dressage classes throughout the week.
A special guest at the show is the internationally-acclaimed dessert chef Adriano Zumbo who is designing a dessert degustation for Saturday afternoon.
For more information, head to www.hoy.kiwi .
What: Horse of the Year Show
Where: Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Hastings
When: March 7-12, 2017
By: Diana Dobson/HOY Media Manager