Backers put horse show on solid ground

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN - Business Editor

Merchant interest in the Horse of the Year Show will help its further success, says show director Kevin Hansen.

"The trade site bookings for 2013 have taken us by surprise," he said.

"The interest is just out of this world and trade sites aren't cheap, they are an expensive operation. The Australian and New Zealand interest has blown us away. It is not only equestrian goods but also women's fashion.

This year's show was an all-round success with many visiting just for the atmosphere and shopping, he said.

"It was a fantastic show, we think one of the better ones we have done in its 14 years."

It has made a much-needed profit that helped make up for the "disastrous years of 2008 and 2009".

"We lost $390,000 over those two years. The last few years have been paying off that debt. We are pretty certain we have covered that debt and are into positive outcome from the current show now.

"Our gate money was well up. We think the crowd was much the same as last year, which was 74,500, but we think more security around our entry is why our gate money was up.

"Show owner Show Jumping Hawke's Bay Inc. have worked very hard over the last couple of years to make the show profitable. In 2010 we made $80,000 profit, in 2011 a $200,000 profit and so far this year we project we have made the budgeted profit of $108,000. We've covered the debt and are in the positive."

He said next year's show will be a lot different "as always".

"We've never had the same show in two years yet. Next year we have got the World Mounted Games Championships which is going to change the whole show. They are going to have one of the main arenas full time and their finals will be in the main arena Saturday night. There are up to 18 countries involved.

"When we got into trouble financially we were heading down the international path bringing European riders into it. It became a bit of a bogus international competition because it was impossible to bring European and American horses in and without the combinations it wasn't quite the real thing. But we would like to explore that path and as we produce profit and get more investment we would like to get some European horses down here - that's one of the aims for the show over the next 5-10 years.

"Certainly the best Australasian showjumpers were there at the show and it is recognised as being the most prestigious equestrian event in Australasia."

He said there were "serious" negotiations towards a naming sponsor "but if it doesn't happen I'm confident all our major sponsors will be there in 2013".

"Television exposure is what the naming sponsors want. We have been shown on TV1 twice over the last couple of Sundays and there is more to come from this year's show."

A magazine-type programme on the show is currently in production.

The show's assets have been building over the years, which will help with its future success and the Hawke's Bay economy. The show is credited with putting over $12 million into the local economy.

"The show now owns over $400,000 worth [assets] including 50 great big temporary stables that go round the country, 200 piped yards, practice surfaces based at the showground and probably the best showjumping equipment in Australasia."

Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) had made a commitment to retain the show in Hawke's Bay for the next 15 years but its ownership would change hands, with Hastings District Council and EZNZ involvement.

"Watch this space, but the ownership of the show could change in the next couple of months to a new entity," he said.

The show's new board comprises Greg Gent (ESNZ), Warwick Hansen (Showjumping Hawke's Bay), Cynthia Bowers (Hastings District Council deputy mayor), Cindy Mitchener (marketing and TV expert from Auckland) and Colin Stone (Sport Hawke's Bay chief executive).

Kevin Hansen's Taradale-based company manages the show and has five employees organising equestrian events throughout the country.

Continuing financial success of Horse of the Year Show will be safeguarded by his clear focus on the bottom line.

"The biggest thing is we made a profit."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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