Australian Olympian Megan Jones will be defending her title at the New Zealand round of the HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing series (2-4 April, Kihikihi, near Te Awamutu).
The prominent Australian rider is one of 19 entries contesting New Zealand’s most coveted Eventing title and vying for a share of the $60,000 prize pool as well as a chance to secure valuable points in the sports revamped global series.
A new format released in 2010 for the HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing series will see 12 qualifier events run in ten countries across three continents with the 15 most successful riders sharing in a valuable bonus prize fund worth US$180,000. The new format allows riders from all continents to compete on an equal footing - meaning riders in New Zealand, Australia and America will have as much chance as their European counterparts of winning the final prize.
Jones is returning to Kihikihi with her top horse, Kirby Park Irish Jester, the same horse she was victorious on at both the New Zealand and Australian qualifiers last year. Jester is also the horse she took to the Beijing Olympics where they were part of the Silver medal-winning Australian team and narrowly missed on an individual medal after finishing fourth.
The New Zealand contingent consists of three former winners of the event, including former Olympic representatives Heelan Tompkins and Matthew Grayling (both of Taranaki) and Waikato based Clarke Johnstone, as well as several senior and young rider national squad members.
Kihikihi Course Designer John Nicholson has unveiled his course of 30 fences for this year’s event, which will maintain Kihikihi’s reputation of an influential cross country course in the three phase competition of dressage, cross country and show jumping. Themed obstacles are synonymous with Nicholson’s course which includes carved figures and stump houses from the classic children’s story Winnie the Pooh.
“We have a truly top class field of entries this year and we are delighted to see Megan Jones back from Australia. We whole heartedly support the changes to this years World Cup series. The significant prize pool will ensure an exciting three days of competition” said Kihikihi Event Director Bruce Bason.
The event starts with dressage on Friday, cross country on Saturday and concludes with show jumping on Sunday. Aside from the competition there is a trade village, a novelty fun run over the cross country course, live music and a classic car display. In accordance with the organisers policy of bringing the sport of Eventing to a growing audience, spectator entry is free.
more information at www.thehorseevent.co.nz