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Top riders heading our way

Top-flight riders are heading to Gisborne from all over the country this week for the Larsen Sawmilling North Island Jumping and Show Hunter Championships.

As well as the prestigious North Island titles — 13 in jumping and eight in show hunter — Gisborne will also host a Trans-Tasman young rider test, the FEI Children’s International Classic, an FEI CSI1* 1.4-metre class and a five-strong New Caledonian team competing as part of their New Zealand visit.

More than 350 horses and ponies will compete during the three days at Showgrounds Park. Friday morning’s 19-strong Bayley’s Real Estate Gisborne FEI CSI1* 1.4m features some of New Zealand’s top combinations. They include Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) on LT Holst Andrea, who recently won the Longines FEI World Cup (NZ series) final, and Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Fiber Fresh Veroana, who placed third in the series.

Local hope Fraser Tombleson will look to impress on his home-bred mare Mea I, who has been in fine form in the World Cup Series.

Some combinations in the class will use it as a warm-up for Sunday’s Equissage Horse Grand Prix, which has attracted 15 entries.

The Country TV Pony Grand Prix has drawn a solid 14-strong field.

Local hopes are pinned on Amelia Paull and Envious Edition, but they will face serious competition from former Pony of the Year Maddox Fun House, ridden by Emma Watson (Morrinsville), and Tony the Pony, ridden by Rylee Sheehan (Te Aroha).

The Trans-Tasman Young Rider Test always attracts plenty of interest. Riding for New Zealand in the Easts Outdoor Work & Leisure Young Rider Test will be Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo), Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu), Oliver Croucher (Cambridge) and Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch), with John Cottle the chef d’equipe and Elmo Jackson (Auckland) the reserve.

Australia will be represented by Lucie Aldridge, Clemency Hughes, Lucy Evans and Cameron Moffatt, with Todd Hinde the chef d’equipe.

The competition runs over three days, with points accumulating through to the final on Sunday. All competitors are on borrowed horses with new mounts each day.

The FEI Children’s International Classic (gold tour) will run over two days with the youngsters, aged 12 to 14, facing two rounds a day. As this is an international competition, the horses or ponies are inspected before being allowed to start. The winner of the individual competition will have his or her score pitched against others from around the globe with the best competing in a world final this year.

The championships also mark the end of the Bernina Sewing and Crafts Gisborne Jumping Series for both horses and ponies, as well as the EJ Gordon Livestock Show Hunter Series and the LP Show Hunter Series.

The grounds are looking immaculate for the championships, which start on Friday.

Three jumping arenas will be in use each day, with the show hunter competition held in the Gisborne Equestrian Centre indoor arena.

Heather McDonald is the course designer for Ring 1, John Vallance (Australia) for Ring 2 and Marcus Rose for Ring 3.

Entry is free for spectators.

See also this story.

GOOD COMBINATION: Fraser Tombleson guides his home-bred mare Mea I over a jump last month. They have been in fine form in the World Cup Series this summer. File picture by Paul Rickard