There is plenty on the line for a clutch of top riders competing at the Kihikihi International Horse Trial this weekend, with national selectors set to name a senior team to compete in a Trans Tasman Clash in Sydney later in the month.

More than 300 combinations have entered across the grades, and that pleases the hard-working event organisers no end. There are 11 combinations lining up in the three star (advanced), including Trans Tasman hopefuls Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata), Simon Gordon (Auckland), Dannie Lodder (Papakura), Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) and Monica Oakley (Waipukurau).

Gordon and, fresh from their crowning as Eventer of the Year at the Horse of the Year Show in Hawke’s Bay, is the one they are all chasing, but none of those entered in the three star class can ever be discounted. Gordon is looking forward to the challenge the John Nicholson-designed track will present. “It will be bigger and more technical than the Horse of the Year, but it’s a huge adrenaline buzz going around it – it’s always a great course.”

Smith has two in the three star, with Balmoral Tangolooma (owned by Sim Kann, Gaye McClunie and Graham Smith) and Britannica MVNZ (owned by Caroline Jolley and Wendy Keddell). With Kihikihi almost her ‘home track’ she’s hoping for a good result, but both her mounts are relatively green at this top level.
That said, she’s quick to add that both also have very exciting futures, with loads of potential.
She’s also competing two in the lower grades.

McKinstry, who is currently leading the Bell Tea Super League, also has her eyes on the prize aboard Pioneer Makokomiko in her first-ever start in the three star at Kihikihi. She's competed in the lower grades before and thrives on the challenge of a cross country course that is always beautifully presented.

Meanwhile Oakley aboard Fontain rates herself an outsider, but a very determined one. She’s hoping the stage fright Fontain got at the Horse of the Year Show will set him up for a better result this time round. “We’re definitely the new kids, but I’m really excited to be competing there,” she says.

Vice president Peter Jenkins says the event, which starts on Friday and runs through until Sunday afternoon at the Kihikihi Domain, is gearing up to be another cracker. The decision to introduce the one star (novice) class has been hugely successful, and the 63-plus entries has seen the need to split into two. Dressage for all divisions will be held on Friday, with the pre novice entrants also completing their showjumping the same day. Cross country Saturday guarantees to draw the crowds, with the showjumping for all other divisions on Sunday.

Eventing selectors are set to name their team to compete in Sydney at the conclusion of the event.
While there are no international competitors, judges are coming from far and wide, including Lynnette Roycroft (Australia), James Rooney (Ireland) and Mary Robbins (UK).

Sunday morning’s Newstalk ZB Fools and Horses Fun Run – inspired by a similar affair at the Blenheim Horse Trial in England – gets underway at 10am and will see all sorts of competitors cover a 4km loop including that epic cross country course.

Date Added: Wednesday, 3rd April 2013