by Diana Dobson

Te Awamutu eventer Joe Waldron is hoping he can go one better than his best ever result at the BNZ Kihikihi International Horse Trials this weekend.

The 22-year-old, who only recently moved to Te Awamutu from Australia, placed second in 2012 aboard former racehorse Springvale All Black. He was born in Otago, but moved to Australia when he was 15.

Waldron, a member of the Equestrian Sports New Zealand High Performance Accelerator Squad, recently finished third at the NRM Horse of the Year Show in the CIC3* and says his 14-year-old thoroughbred is primed to do well at the April 11-13 event, to be held at the Kihikihi Domain.

Having ridden every CCI3* track in Australia, Waldron still rates Kihikihi as the biggest he has ever faced. But he’s looking forward to the event with relish.

“Kihikihi is a definite step up,” he says. “That first course walk you think ‘wow’. I am lucky All Black is an incredible cross country ride and likes it good and fast,” he says.

Recent dry weather will leave the track the other side of firm, but Waldron says his horse is used to hard ground. “A little rain would be nice though.”

He has high hopes for All Black, who he describes as a slow maturing horse.
“The longer he goes, the better he will get. His showjumping and cross country is so consistent, and his dressage continues to improve.”

Waldron arrived in the country with just two horses – All Black and Springvale Optimist, who is also a former race horse. Both will start at Kihikihi, but at opposite ends of the field – All Black in the 3* and Optimist in the pre-novice.

Kihikihi will be Optimist’s second pre-novice start. Waldron recently did a course with Olympian Jock Paget who was very impressed with the youngster.

“It is the first time I have trained with Jock and he was just an absolute champion!”

Waldron also plans to compete in the 2* aboard Benrose Rock Star (owned by Tania Scott) and Ristretto (owned by Gemma Hewettson), who have both joined his stable.

Looking ahead, Waldron has his eye on competing at the Luhmuhlen CCI4* in mid June and hopefully the 2014 World Equestrian Championships in France in August.

“Kihikihi will probably be the last event for All Black before he heads to Luhmuhlen, although nothing is booked yet!”

Waldron would follow the horse after the three day event at Taupo in May. “The ideal plan would be to do Luhmuhlen, followed by either the World Champs or Burghley in the first week of September before coming home.”

But much depends on how other top Kiwi combinations go. However, Waldron is happy about where he is at the moment and thriving in his new home town. “Things really are coming together nicely,” he says, “and while I still lack an extra 3* ride as a back up to All Black, the young horses are looking really promising.”

And he is loving being based back in New Zealand. “It is just fantastic... it really feels as though I am home.”

Date Added: Tuesday, 8th April 2014