World-Class Designer Heading Down Under

New Zealand’s aspiring course designers have another chance to spend time with one of the best in the world.

 Mike Etherington-Smith is heading Down Under for his second trip in as many years, and again, thanks to a High Performance Sport New Zealand Prime Minister’s Scholarship.

 ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout says the visit is part of a push for further development of Kiwi officials. “We want to ensure we have a high performance competition environment here in New Zealand that enables both our top riders and programme to develop and perform here,” said Dalziell-Clout.

 With that in mind, Etherington-Smith will be visiting cross country courses in Pukemarama at the Central Districts course, at the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo and the Eventing Bay of Plenty course in Rotorua.

 “We want to make sure we are building cross country courses which would foot it with others of the same level around the world,” says Dalziell-Clout. “This is critical to developing and building our people and horses up through the grades, as well as making any transition for them onto the international scene much more seamless.”

 Eventing sport manager Eliza Riedel also believes the week-long visit is hugely important for New Zealand officials. “To have Mike here is an amazing opportunity,” says Riedel. “We have some experienced, top-level course designers in the country, but to have him here helps to provide an extra layer of knowledge.”

 Having someone look over a course with a completely different perspective could reinforce what has been done is excellent, or that something may need changing.

 “It is about helping to make sure we are setting courses at the right level and that our events meet international standards. It is important for our developing course designers, and those building at the lower levels, that they are creating the right courses to develop horses for the future.”

 There is an opportunity for people at Pukemarama to walk the course with Etherington-Smith on Saturday, April 29, while his other seminars are by invitation only for ESNZ officials.

 “Mike visited the course at Taupo on his last trip, so this is really a follow up and will give key feedback for those involved.” Riedel said ESNZ Eventing were hugely appreciative of the support from ESNZ high performance and HPSNZ to bring Etherington-Smith to New Zealand. Hopes are high he will make two visits this year.

 Etherington-Smith is a former professional eventer and showjumper who has been involved in everything from the British Horse Trials Association (now British Eventing) to Badminton, Blenheim, Kentucky, Adelaide and Luhmuhlen, the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and more.

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