The sun beat down on the Dannevirke A&P Showgrounds when the Central and Southern Hawke's Bay show jumping and show hunter equestrian events were held, providing almost ideal conditions for junior riders and New Zealand's elite in the World Cup qualifying horse and pony grand prix.
Three rings on the weekend of January 8-9 operated continuously from 8am, with the horse grand prix the final highlight of a busy two days.
It was once again a display of superb management by the club, the rings a picture of colourful jumps all carefully placed and supervised by a great team of volunteers. It illustrates that good organisation and determination can overcome Covid restrictions to provide an event as close to normal as possible.
A good crowd of visitors joined local riders – up in numbers from previous years – proving that equestrians wanted to compete. For youngsters, it was a chance to achieve their personal bests and give their mounts experience.
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Local 13-year-old Zara Von Dadelzen, who has been riding since she was five years old, was riding Ngahiwi Roany Pony, her mount for the past three years which went clear in the 1.05m event, while Jaime Watters from Feilding cleared 1.10m on Solstice - an ex-polo pony.
A big crowd half-filled the grandstand upsetting the sparrows which had nested in five places in the roof, but even their protests could not distract from the high calibre of show jumping with two rails set at the maximum of 1.6m in the horse grand prix.
Four of the 11 competitors went clear in the first round including Maurice Beatson on Central Park. The other local Logan Massie had the worst possible start felling the first jump and incurring 10 faults overall but he went clear in the second round.
Beatson looked to be clear again until he dropped a rail on the second last jump and with Tegan Fitzsimon and Phillip Steiner both going clear he was relegated to fourth on time difference.
Fitzsimon won the event with the fastest time confirming the excellent form she and Windermere Cappuccino are in having scored three wins and a second in the World Cup qualifying events so far. When asked how she did it, she said modestly her mount "had springs in its feet".
A fitting finish to the show was when the long-time equestrian judge and senior FEI international representative Audrey Cameron, as her final act before retirement, presented Fitzsimon with her trophy.