This year's Horse of the Year Show promises to be an equine extravaganza.

The Farmlands New Zealand sponsored annual event, which will kick off on March 1, brings equestrian enthusiasts from all over the world.

The much-anticipated event will see 2600 horses ridden by 1800 riders on 28 arenas in front of 84,000 spectators.

Event manager Dave Mee said entries had already closed and competition numbers were up by the hundreds.


Mr Mee said this year would see an awesome array of top-flight equestrian competition across many disciplines.

He said the Olympic Cup was the "pinnacle" for the best showjumpers in the land.

Two of the country's top Rio prospects, John Thompson and Julie Brougham, will be vying for the top dressage titles.

"Both will be very keen to gain marks towards their qualifying criteria for selection for Rio."

He said while he has not got the latest count as to how many competitors had entered, they were tracking slightly ahead of last year in numbers.

"We are a few hundred entries ahead of last year that was four hours before we closed," he said. "So we are positive about that, in fact we are really pleased.

"The equestrian community has committed to this being the major event of the year, which I guess it was always expected to be."

He did note that there would be movement in these numbers through cancellations, postponements and late entries.

HOY board chairwoman and deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers said she hoped the weather would play its part in what is the highlight on the Hawke's Bay events calendar.

More details will be revealed over the next couple of weeks but Ms Bowers said the live entertainment for the event will undergo a total revamp.

"People will notice some improvements. For example a nice new entranceway for visitors to pass through rather than the underwhelming entrance of the past."

She said there were a number of subtle changes that will enhance the experience for people.

"Things are pretty frantic at the moment but with just a month to go until the show, that can be expected."

Ms Bowers said the event had lots of capacity for locals to be a part of it, even those not particularly interested in horses.