The North Island's 2017-18 Eventing year springs into action at Hastings this weekend, where the Northern Hawke's Bay event at Hawke's Bay Equestrian Park has attracted competitors from throughout the island, including Olympians and national champions.
The top-class, the Lumberjack Logging CNC2* Plus, has attracted a star-studded line-up, looking for an easy outing to kick off their season, among them the best performed Kiwi combination at Rio, Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) and Balmoral Sensation.
The 2* Plus class comprises 3* dressage and showjumping and 2* crosscountry.
Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) has last year's national one-day champion and crowd favourite DSE Mr Hokey Pokey as well as DSE Tangolooma, while Samantha Felton (Matangi) also has two horses entered, Ricker Ridge Rui and Ricker Ridge Divine Right, but not her current national one-day champion, Ricker Ridge Escada.
Local competitor Amanda Pottinger (Havelock North) has last year's NRM Three-day Event winner Just Kidding entered, and the field is completed by former NZ Young Rider champion Sarah Young (Tokoroa), riding Leo Degas. A star-studded line-up is preparing for the first Super League of the season at Taupo next weekend.
Fifteen combinations will contest the Hygain CNC2* class, where early points in the Equissage Pro-Am Rider series could prove valuable as the season progresses. Of interest in this class is Oceania champion Jock Paget (Taupo) riding Heelan Tompkins' promising Snow Leopard, and Amanda Pottinger on Holly Morrell's well-performed Pampero.
Donna Edwards-Smith has two entered, as does veteran Bryce Newman (Bulls) and Abby Lawrence (Te Puke). Central Hawke's Bay teenager Isaac Twigg on The Juggler will be keen to hold his own amongst these senior riders, after a good showing in the Junior ranks last season.
The Livamol CNC1* also has big names, with Clarke Johnstone on In Disguise, with whom he fell with at this event last year, and Kate Wood's Wolf Whistle II, easy first-up runs. Likewise last year's winners of the Pro-Am series, Madison Crowe (Matangi) and Waitangi Pinterest will start at this level, as well as Lucius GNZ.
The Horse & Groom Equine Jobs CNC1* for 6, 7, and 8-year-old horses has attracted a quality field of promising youngsters, including three ridden by Samantha Felton. There are some big teams of horses hitting the Bay this weekend, as well as the many local riders.
Points will also be available for the PEL Equine Amateur Rider and Mitavite Young Rider series, with all series culminating at the NRM National Three-day Event in Taupo next May. Dressage and showjumping take place on Saturday and cross-country on Sunday.