Equestrian: Honour, glory and crowns on the line

It's business time for the nation's showjumpers as they head to the Equestrian Sports New Zealand Jumping Series Grand Finals in Feilding this week.

The top-ranking three-day show at Manfeild gets underway tomorrow (Thur) and is one of the three pinnacle events for jumpers in New Zealand.

At stake are the prestigious series titles, which are competed for throughout the season, culminating with the grand finale this week.

The golden run of Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) continues as he and My Gollywog can't be caught in the Bayer Super League Series.

It caps off a tremendous season for the veteran competitor who also won the Bayer World Cup New Zealand Series and the JB Olympic Cup for showjumper of the year.

Rising young star Melanie Weal (Te Awamutu) is in a similar situation in the KiwiSpan Junior Rider Series and can't be caught.

However, it's not so cut and dried in the Pony Grand Prix Series which has seen a see-saw between Weal aboard Hopeful Illusion and Emily Fraser (Takapau) on Tony the Pony.

Just two points separate the girls heading into Saturday afternoon's final which has a massive 30 points for the win.

Fraser and Tony the Pony have placed in 21 of their 22 grand prix starts this season, while Weal have placed in 20 of their 24 starts.

With 11 starters, it will be a battle royal between Weal and Fraser, but there are others that can't be discounted to star, including Steffi Whittaker (Christchurch) aboard Moonlight Glow who are sitting in third place, Nakeysha Lammers (Whangarei) on Airborne Magic and Tegan Newman (Northland) on her Kaimanawa Watch Me Move, a former Pony of the Year winner.

Lucy Akers (Opiki) and Cortaflex Tinapai are looking strong for the Horse Grand Prix Series, which has attracted 17 entries, as is Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) and Supernova NZPH in the Seven Year Old Series, and Rosie Commons (Auckland) in the Young Rider Series.

It's tight times in the Caledonian Amateur Rider Series with just eight points separating Kelly Smith (Foxton) and Kirsty Gradwell (Henderson).

And it's also too tight to call in the Mitavite Six Year Old Series and Fernhill Stud Five Year Old Series

Also being decided will be the STH Pro Amateur Rider Series and the EquiBreed/VDL Leading Mare Series.

But there are also a few fun events, including Friday night's invitational class where horse and rider combinations team up with champion agility dogs for an entertaining relay, and a pony top score class.

The show is the last one for the season, with most combinations now resting up until September when the 2013-2014 season will get underway.

- APNZ

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