Plenty to Ride for at NZ World Cup Final
Who will win the Bayley's Real Estate 2018 FEI World Cup NZ League Final . . .
CAPTIONS Series leader Rose Alfeld aboard My Super Nova (left) and Briar Burnett-Grant on Fiber Fresh Veroana (below) are two to watch in Sunday's final. Photos by Cheleken Photography
Plenty to Ride for at NZ World Cup Final
It’s the day many of the nation’s top showjumpers have been waiting for . . . the final of the Bayley’s Real Estate FEI World Cup New Zealand League.
Ten well-performed combinations will compete on Sunday afternoon at the Continental Cars Audi World Cup Festival at Woodhill Sands in Auckland, chasing both bragging rights and the chance to represent their nation at the world final in France.
With points-and-a-half up for grabs and the complication of just riders’ best four scores to count, it would be a brave person to pick a series winner before the final fence is jumped.
Series leader Rose Alfeld (Leeston) has clocked up some serious miles as she has chased points, with two trips to the North Island. She sits on 74 points, with a nine point buffer back to the second-placed Samantha Morrison (Tauranga). It’s mighty tight in the minors, with Melody Matheson (Havelock North) just a point adrift of Morrison and Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) another point back, however Matheson has had to make the tough decision to scratch from the final.
“She sustained a minor injury in her warm-up round and we are choosing to save her for another day,” says Matheson.
Alfeld will be aboard her 12-year-old Holstein cross My Super Nova. They’ve done six World Cup qualifiers since 2015, and won or placed second in four of those. They head to the final in good spirits.
“I am very happy with how he jumped at Dannevirke (last weekend) with just a couple of small mistakes keeping us out of the higher placings,” says Alfeld. “He is feeling great and I am looking forward to the final. I am trying not to let the added pressure of sitting on top of the leaderboard get to me and just want to go out and do our best.”
And regardless of how they go, she’s a content competitor.
“I’ll be happy with him no matter what happens because he has already exceeded all my expectations for the season.”
Morrison is hoping her World Cup season will finish with a bang.
“Biarritz and I are ready to tackle the final,” she said of her 12-year-old Selle Francais.
They’ve been a very competitive combination since they won on début in 2015 and are rarely out of the top five.
Hayward is also looking to finish the series on a high.
“I am super happy going into the final,” she said. “We’re going into it on a good note after a second at Dannevirke and AP Ninja is feeling great. He has bounced back well after the long trip.”
She would dearly love to place in the final and a top three in the series would be a dream come true.
“But I am well aware of the stiff competition I will be up against, so will be happy with whatever the outcome.”
Included in that line-up are Olympians Katie Laurie (Mystery Creek) and Clarke Johnstone (Matangi).
Laurie is a six-time winner of the series and boasts New Zealand’s best ever result at a World Cup Final with her sixth equal placing in Leipzig, Germany, in 2011.
She is flying in from her base in Australia especially for the final to compete aboard the well-performed mare Breeze, but her preparation has been a little unusual.
“I am flying in and meeting my horse at the show.”
Her mum Vicki McVean has been riding the horse, along with good mate Tash Brooks.
“Mum and dad tell me Breeze is feeling super,” says Laurie, who is “hugely appreciative” of the team who make it all possible.
“It is not ideal not being able to jump her before the show but I am really busy in Australia preparing Casebrooke Lomond and my team of younger horses for a big 2018,” she said. “I am looking forward to jumping in the final . . . I think Breeze is a very good horse on her day – she is fit and happy, so hopefully she can jump a good round.”
While Laurie can win the final, she cannot win the series as she is also competing in the Australian league.
Johnstone, New Zealand’s best performed eventer from the Rio Olympic Games, will compete aboard Quainton Labyrinth.
“I am looking forward to getting Bryn out in the competition arena again,” said Johnstone. “His last start was EQUITANA Auckland (in November). He is feeling really good and jumping nicely at home, so I am hoping for a good result.”
Young gun Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) is in the mix with her roan Fiber Fresh Veroana. The 17-year-old is only just allowed to compete in the series and made quite a statement when she won her first start last weekend.
“I’m feeling really good leading up to the final, especially after last weekend. Flash is a little tired from his efforts but it’s in his nature to be energised rather quickly.”
Tess Clark (Gisborne) is also looking forward to the final.
“My horse is feeling the best he ever has,” she said of Sinatra II.
Brit-turned-Kiwi Helen McNaught (Taupo) has her relatively new horse Ngahiwi Ned Kelly entered and is hoping for a good round as they build up to the Horse of the Year Show.
Lucy Olphert (Tauranga) says it has been a season of challenges but Eve Saint Laurent has come back from her December break ready to go.
“This weekend will be tough but we will definitely be giving it our bes
et shot,” she said. “Waitemata always put on a beautiful show so we are really looking forward to it.”
Logan Massie (Dannevirke) is having his first start of the season at World Cup level with Intellect.
“He’s only eight and quite green, so will just have to see how he jumps on the first two days and go from there.”
Massie hasn’t jumped any big tracks himself since heading home from Europe two years ago.
“So hopefully I will have a bit of luck on my side. I am excited for the show because either way it is a great ring with a lot of atmosphere which the horses will get plenty of experience from.”
Gerrit Beker (Tauranga) will design the courses at the show.
The World Cup is the highest-ranked series run in New Zealand, and always attracts the cream of the crop with the overall winner having the opportunity to represent the country at the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Paris later this year.
The New Zealand league had six qualifiers plus the final. Riders also had the opportunity to gain their qualification for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.
Also at the show is the FEI Children’s International Classic (gold) for youngsters chasing the chance to be one of 14 from across the globe to ride in that final.
Bayley’s Real Estate FEI World Cup NZ League Leaderboard (after six rounds – best four to count): Rose Alfeld (Leeston) 74 points 1, Samantha Morrison (Tauranga) 63 2, Melody Matheson (Havelock North) 62 3, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) 61 4, Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) and Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 55 =5, Robert Steele (Dannevirke) 47 7, Tess Clark (Gisborne) 45 8, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) 2
9 9, Lucy Fell (Longburn) 19 10.
WHAT: Bayley’s Real Estate FEI World Cup New Zealand League Final
WHERE: Continental Cars Audi World Cup Festival at Woodhill Sands, Auckland
WHEN: Sunday, January 14, 2018
MORE INFO: sjwaitemata.co.nz or on Facebook @ Showjumping Waitemata
LIVE STREAMING: jxsport.tv