On December 9, 10 and 11, Auckland’s Puhinui Reserve will become the temporary home for over 170 horses from all over New Zealand as they compete in the Puhinui International Three Day Event. This hotly contested event is one of only two held in New Zealand at the Olympic level of equestrian eventing.
The premiere class offers some stiff competition, with the 2015 winner Virginia Thompson returning in an attempt to reclaim the Honda New Zealand CCI3* title. Challenging Thompson will be 13 other riders, including the 2016 One Day Champion Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) with her crowd favourite Mr Hokey Pokey and the 2016 National Three Day Champion Amanda Pottinger (Hawkes Bay).
Having returned from the Olympics placing sixth individually for team New Zealand, Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation will not be fronting up in the CCI3* to reclaim their 2014 title. However, Johnstone’s protégée and young rider Jackson Bovill will be hoping to push the main players as he tackles his first CCI3*.
Bovill says his mount Visionnaire is feeling fit and enthusiastic in her final preparations. “She has had an awesome couple of lead up runs at One Day Champs (where the pair placed 2nd) and Rotorua Horse Trials so I am excited for the pinnacle event of the spring season,” says Bovill.
Bovill, at just 19, says he is not fazed at being one of the youngest riders in the premiere class. Although he is still green at this level, he says he is ready for the challenge. “I enter every competition with the end goal being a top placing, more importantly I am striving for personal bests in all phases and if that results in a podium finish then I will be wrapped.”
Samantha Felton, having just returned home from campaigning in Australia, will be a strong contender in the iSpyHorses CCI2* class. Competing for the same title will be the season favourite Madison Crowe aboard her new mount Waitangi Pinterest. Crowe formed a new partnership with Waitangi Pinterest at the beginning of the season with brilliant results placing 2nd in the CIC2* at the One Day Champs and winning the CIC2* at Rotorua Horse Trials this spring.
“I’m very excited to be heading back to Puhinui this year and a podium finish would certainly top off this spring season. Puhinui can be very testing so fingers crossed,” says Crowe.
High quality fields of Young Rider and Junior Riders will be chasing their respective Puhinui Three Day titles. Sarah Young with Leo Degas is favourite to take out the Honda NZ Young Rider 2*, however the DEVI Heating Systems Junior Rider* is more difficult to pick with a strong field of 18 including the consistent Gymnastik Showdown and Greer Caddigan.
2016 sees the return of Olympian Andrew Bennie to Puhinui. Bennie is a two-time Olympian, winning team bronze at the Seoul Olympics. He is now an international FEI judge and was one of the three Ground Jury members at the Rio Olympics.
“Andrew Bennie will be ensuring our lower level riders are on the right track as he judges the Horse and Pony CCN105. Margs Carline, one of Andrew’s team mates from the bronze medal winning team in Seoul, joins judges from the UK and Ireland to form the Ground Jury for the Honda NZ CCI3*” says Susan O’Brien long time Event Secretary, herself an FEI Technical Delegate.
The Dressage phase kicks off on Friday 9th December with what promises to be an action packed cross-country on Saturday December 10th. The picturesque course is in brilliant condition.
“While the flow of the course is similar to previous years, there are a number of new combination questions for every level” says FEI course designer Titch Massey.
The all important show jumping will decide the winners on Sunday December 11th.
There will be many trade stalls there for everything from horse gear to Christmas presents and a number of different types of food and drinks vendors. This year sees a Rider Central base for competitors and their teams to keep an eye on the action.
The event will be livestreamed on www.equestrianlive.co.nz for those not able to attend in person.
More information can be found on the event’s website www.3dayevent.co.nz or the Facebook page, Puhinui International Three Day Event New Zealand.