The ESNZ Eventing season concludes at the NRM National Three-day Event at the Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre, Taupo, this weekend, along with the year-long eventing series which cater for all six levels of competition.
However, the super league has been extended to include the Melbourne Three-day Event where the Oceania Championship will take place next month, as the NZ squad horses will not contest the CCI3* at Taupo. A short format CIC3* will be staged for their final run before flying to Melbourne on June 4.
The squad comprises Olympians Clarke Johnstone on Balmoral Sensation, the best of the Kiwis at Rio, and Jock Paget, now based near Taupo, with Angus Blue, the horse he brought back from the UK.
Samantha Felton has been named with two horses, Ricker Ridge Escada and Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, and Andy Daines with Spring Panorama, both of whom had experience in Australia last spring. Virginia Thompson, who has Star Nouveau in Australia already, is also named.
The latter three are serious contenders in the super league but the long-time leader, Donna Edwards-Smith on DSE Mr Hokey Pokey, now has the opportunity to seal her position at the top of the table with a good showing at Taupo.
However, defending champions Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding seem to be back on form, having overcome the loss of confidence suffered by the horse as a result of the serious ducking they had in the water complex en route to winning the title last year.
The Oceania Young Rider Championship will also take place at Melbourne, at CCI2* level, with a team of future internationals named to take on their peers across the ditch.
Both the current young rider champion and leader of the Mitavite Young Rider series, Abigail Long on Enzo, and last year's champion and series winner, Jackson Bovill on Visionnaire, have been named, together with Vicky Brown-Cole on Eli and Renee Faulkner on Rubinstar HH.
Faulkner and Bovill have both stepped up to 3* during the competition year, and Faulkner has elected to start in the short format CIC3* at Taupo, while the other three are starting at 1* level for a confidence boosting last run before flying out with the Senior squad horses. Long's huge margin at the top of the Mitavite Young Rider series will ensure she is not overtaken.
Surprisingly, the new leader of the Equestrian Entries Pro-Am series, Taupo's Holly Morrell on Pampero, is also competing at 1* level, giving the long-time leader Madison Crowe on Waitangi Pinterest the opportunity to retake top spot with a good performance in the Bates Saddles CCI2*.
The winners and place-getters in all six series will receive their rewards at the ESNZ Eventing annual awards dinner in Auckland on July 1.