Friday, Saturday and Sunday are proving the big days for ticket buyers heading to the Farmlands Horse of the Year Show.
With just days until the show gets under way, ticket sales are up on last year and organisers are confident that trend will continue. More than 50,000 people are expected to flow through the gates over the six days of the show, which starts tomorrow.
It's no surprise punters are keen on those three days - the Friday Night Extravaganza is always a popular event and with a fantastic line-up in the wings.
The show follows the CSI2* $46,000 McMillan Silver Fern Stakes which includes most of the nation's top riders. Star of the extravaganza is extreme free rider Alycia Burton and her horse Classic Goldrush, but there is also the exciting Equissage Slalom Sweepstakes that sees riders go head to head over a short showjumping course, whittling the field down to just two for the final.
There's plenty more to celebrate at the extravaganza, but organisers are urging people to buy tickets beforehand and be at the grounds early to ensure good seats. The McMillan Silver Fern Stakes gets under way at 4.30pm and marks the start of an exciting and entertaining evening.
Saturday is People's Day at HOY and a chance to feel the excitement of the adrenalin-packed cross country competition, the third and final phase of the CIC2* and CIC3* classes.
It's also one of the busiest days at HOY, so make sure you get there early. Pack a picnic and bring the family. The lake in the middle of the Waikoko Gardens is the place to be - combinations come through here a couple of times. The best seats in the house are at the VIP marquee on the island.
Sunday is the marquee event of the show, the CSI2* Olympic Cup, for Showjumper of the Year. This is the best of the best battling it out for the $116,000 prize pool and bragging rights for the year ahead. Top Australian rider James Arkins has made no secret of his desire to take the top title back across the Tasman. Sunday is also the big day for dressage, and punters can expect a lot from the fields this year.
Two riders in particular are chasing not just crowns, but valuable qualifying scores that will make them eligible for selection for the Rio Olympics.
Julie Brougham (Palmerston North) and John Thompson (Hamilton) are both eyeing the Dressage Horse of the Year crown. Brougham and Vom Feinsten are defending their 2015 title, while it will be Thompson and JHT Antonello's first outing at HOY as a combination.
Thompson and Antonello were recently crowned Grand Prix champs at the Dressage National Champs.
Last year at HOY Brougham set an Australasian record for their musical freestyle with their 76% efforts, and a New Zealand record for the Grand Prix Special.
Watch out for the freestyle to music just before the Olympic Cup on Sunday.
Parking is free at the polo grounds.
- General admission, multi-day and VIP tickets are still available through www.hoy.kiwi.