The Puhinui International Three-day Event in Auckland, 9-11 December, marks the halfway stage of the year long ESNZ Eventing Super League, with competitors from throughout the country travelling long distances to contest the Honda CCI3* class, and earn the extra points on offer for the Olympic format three-day event.
For three intrepid South Islanders, swelling the entries to fourteen in this prestigious class, it was a particularly long journey via the Lewis Pass to Springs Junction before heading north. However they made it to Rotorua for the Bay of Plenty horse trials on 27/28 November, which proved an ideal warm-up for all the horses going to Puhinui.
Rangiora farrier Brent Jury on SE Hedging is currently fourth equal in the Super League with last year’s winner of the Honda CCI3*, Kaukapakapa’s Ginny Thompson on Star Nouveau. Jury won the South Island CIC3*, but his travelling companions, horticulturist Giles Gormack with Lucero and Kirsty Sharapoff with Shoot The Breeze will be keen to turn the tables in Auckland.
The winner at Rotorua, Diane Gilder on Your Attorney, will be hoping to improve her position in the League, having placed second in the first leg at Taupo, but missed the second leg at the National Eventing Championships at Arran Station due to work commitments. The terrain at Puhinui Reserve will suit this big striding Australian thoroughbred, who loves to gallop and jump.
The current League leader, Donna Edwards-Smith, Te Kauwhata, on the diminutive palomino DSE Mr Hokey Pokey, winners of the national title at Arran Station, are sure to produce another crowd pleasing performance in all three phases of the event (dressage, cross-country, and showjumping), but the terrain could prove testing for ‘Yogi’, as he is known, being a thoroughbred/quarter horse cross.
National Young Rider champion Jackson Bovill, based with Olympian Clarke Johnstone at Matangi, holds second spot in the League on his big warmblood mare Visonnaire, having been runner-up at Arran Station. This will be their first three-day event at 3* level, but they look ready for the challenge, and the terrain should not be a problem for them.
Another Young Rider stepping up is 19 year old Renee Faulkner on the grey Rubinstar HH, who will be hoping to catch the selectors’ attention with a Young Rider Oceania trip in mind next year. At the other end of the experience scale, Putaruru farmer Campbell Draper on Mr Mancini, winners of the 2* class last year and the Equestrian Entries Pro-Am series, steps up to 3* this year.
Samantha Felton, Matangi, fresh from competing in Australia, has Ricker Ridge Escada entered, and Sarah Dalziell-Clout, the ESNZ High Performance manager from the Wairarapa, will ride Benrose Super Star. The current National Three-day Event winners, Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding, will be hoping the hiccups they have had this spring are ironed out and they are back on form.
ESNZ EVENTING SUPER LEAGUE (current standings): Donna Edwards-Smith, DSE Mr Hokey Pokey, 72 pts; Jackson Bovill, Visionnaire, 51 pts; Andy Daines, Spring Panorama, 48 pts; Brent Jury, SE Hedging, 42 pts; Ginny Thompson, Star Nouveau, 42 pts; Diane Gilder, Your Attorney, 36 pts.
NATIONAL YOUNG & JUNIOR RIDER SERIES
Both the Young and Junior Rider National Three-day Event titles are contested at Puhinui, with valuable points on offer for the Mitavite Young Rider and PGG Wrightson Junior Rider series. Some Junior Riders (under 18) opt to contest the Young Rider (under 21) title as it is run at 2* level, whereas the Junior Rider is run at 1* level.
One of these is South Islander Lucy Turner, who has Carbon, on whom she won the Junior Rider title last year, stepping up to the Young Rider class this year, as well as Mercedes in the Junior Rider class. Fellow mainlander Maria van Kuijk on Antara Whiskey Mac is another Junior to step up to the Young Rider class.
Sarah Young will defend her Young Rider title riding Leo Degas, but former Oceania team mate Abigail Long will challenge her with Enzo, the former 3* ride of Annabel Wigley. The Honda Young Rider class has a small but quality field of six starters, as some Young Riders have elected to test themselves at 3* level, including Bovill and Faulkner. The points they earn in the classes they contest all count in their series tally.
Greer Caddigan and Gymnastik Showdown, who won the Junior Rider series last year, must be favoured to take the DEVI Heating Junior title at Puhinui this year, although it is a strong field of nineteen starters. South Islander Mikayla Green on Star’s Ransom, currently lying second in the series, will be hoping to close the big gap on the leader, Isaac Twigg on The Juggler, who has a family wedding to attend.
MITAVITE YOUNG RIDER SERIES (current standings): Greer Caddigan, Gymnastik Showdown, 78 pts; Sarah Young, Equador MW, 74 pts; Elise Power, Arctic Cielo, 63 pts; Sarah Young, Leo Degas, 62 pts; Jackson Bovill, Visionnaire, 60 pts.
PGG WRIGHTSON JUNIOR RIDER SERIES (current standings): Isaac Twigg, The Juggler, 104 pts; Mikayla Green, Star’s Ransom, 72 pts; Lily Patterson, Milika, 71 pts; Kate Herdson, Eon, 68 pts; Samuel Amon, Trojan Warrior, 67 pts; Lucy Turner, Carbon, 65 pts; Maria van Kuijk, Antara Whiskey Mac, 65 pts.