Kiwi horses take on the European imports in the opening round of the Bayer World Cup New Zealand League at the Hawke’s Bay A and P Show on Friday.
Of the 14-strong field, six are imported, and bring an exciting new facet to the premier series on the national calendar.
Katie McVean (Mystery Creek), who has won the last three series, is currently without Dunstan Daffodil, but looking forward to bringing her back into the arena by Christmas.
Instead she’s got the pick of a rather ‘green’ bunch – by her own admission. While she has both Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark and the imported Dunstan Zimorena entered in Friday’s class, she is unsure whether she will start both.
“I’m really missing Daffodil,” said McVean. “Zimorena has been thrown a bit into the deep end but we’ll see how she goes.”
Fellow former Olympian Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) also has two horses entered in her imported mares Claire and Estina. While it is still early in the season, both have been jumping superbly, and McIntosh’s experience says she’s a hot contender to challenge for the title this season.
Ross Smith (Christchurch) and his stallion Quite Cassini II headed to Australia for the winter months, where they impressively won a world cup round at the Gatton Showjumping Championships, and in doing so became the only Kiwi combination to do so.
Smith plans to clock some serious miles chasing those valuable world cup series points this season.
Lisa Coupe (Kumeu) has already found golden form this season, with three grand prix victories to her credit. She has both Bates Amaretto MVNZ and My Ocean Wave entered for Friday.
Former series winner Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke), who was runner up last season, also has two with both My Gollywog and Schimmel Warrior on the card. A former Olympian and World Championships representative, Beatson is a fierce competitor and a danger in any class.
Mathew Gilmour (Matangi) has entered the lovely imported mare Belize Di Cantero. This combination are the quiet lot, who just get on and do what they do best. He and mentor, former two time world champ, Vaughn Jefferis have been carefully bringing an exciting team through the ranks in the past few seasons, and are now really starting to attract some interest.
Susie Hayward (Canterbury) is bringing her stunning imported Holsteiner stallion Andretti north for the class. Last season they had just one start in the series, but they are clearly looking to make more of an impact this time round.
Rounding out the start list is former winner Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) on Swinger, who last year finished third in the series, and Bernard Denton (Feilding) on Horsesports Suzuki.
Upper Hutt’s Gary Sinclair is tasked with designing the course. It’s a quality field no doubt, and anyone who accurately picks a winner before it, is a brave man..
The New Zealand series runs over eight rounds, with the final in Tauranga in late January. The winner has the opportunity to travel to Sweden for the world final in April.