More than 200 horses have been entered in the Taupō Spring Horse Trials this weekend, with many of them stepping up a level, having had an outing or two to settle them into their work for the season.
The Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre at Aratiatia is in great order and will provide excellent going for Sunday's cross-country designed by Chris Ross, from Helensville.
The ESNZ Super League class, the Dynavyte CIC3, has attracted 10 entries, including four who featured in the Oaklane Stables CIC2 at Arran Station, Takapau last month. They include Taranaki dairy farmer and former international Matthew Grayling on Winky Foley's big grey NRM Trudeau, who won at Takapau.
Also entered are two horses who withdrew before the cross-country at Takapau due to the hard ground, while lying third and fourth in the Red Snap'r CIC3 class. They are Hamilton accountant Madison Crowe's Waitangi Pinterest and Cambridge solicitor Nick Brooks' lovely black horse For Fame, both well-performed future stars.
The winner of the Super League class at Takapau was Matangi's Samantha Felton on Ricker Ridge Rui, who look well placed to win the Dynavyte prize pack for the best performed combination from both the Takapau and Taupō Super League classes.
Felton has spent time competing in Australia and was a member of the New Zealand team which won the Oceania Championship at Werribee last year.
Abigail Long, of Levin, a member of the New Zealand Young Rider team at Werribee, rides the experienced Enzo. Formerly competed by international Annabel Wigley, Abby has formed a solid partnership with the horse, and they look confident to cope with elite level now.
Diane Gilder has her stunning Australian thoroughbred Your Attorney out at top level again, after establishing her pet care business in Clevedon, and there are two young men who acquitted themselves well in the 2* class at Arran Station taking on the challenge of 3* eventing.
Murupara's Jeffrey Amon rides My Silver Lining and farrier Jake Barham, now practising in Hawke's Bay, rides Atlan.
The New Zealand horses competing in the Australian International Three-day Event CCI4 fly out of Auckland on Sunday morning, so are not competing, but a member of the ground jury at Taupō is officiating there. Marilyn Payne, a senior FEI official from the USA, will assess a New Zealand judge for upgrading to FEI 3 status en route to Adelaide.
ESNZ Eventing Super League standings after three events
Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata), DSE Cluny, 51 pts, Kirsty Sharapoff (Christchurch), Shoot the Breeze, 38 pts, Samantha Felton (Matangi), Ricker Ridge Rui, 32 pts, Renee Faulkner (Papakura), Rubinstar HH, 30 pts.