Olympian and former World Cup finalist Maurice Beatson spearheads a big field for the fourth round of the New Zealand FEI World Cup Series, being held at Taupo this weekend as part of the Taupo Christmas Classic.
The Dannevirke farmer is at the top of the leaderboard on 41 points, with young gun Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Logan Massie (Dannevirke) tied in second on 34 and Melody Matheson (Hastings) in third on 32.
But there is still much to play for as New Zealand’s most prestigious jumping series heads to the grand final at Waitemata next month.
Wins in the series so far have come from Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu), Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) and Lily Tootill (Karaka) – all three are on the card at Taupo. But it is Maurice’s consistency that has seen him top the leaderboard half way through the series.
He is entered aboard Gold Locks and Mandalay Cove in Saturday’s CDI1*-W, the latter who has been particularly solid for his rider over the last couple of seasons at top level. In his three starts this season, Mandalay Cove has placed third and twice fourth.
“To win the World Cup series is always very special,” said Maurice, “but it is a long way to go just yet.” He figures he will nominate his homebred gelding Mandalay Cove on Saturday. “He’s always been so consistent and at 12 is more experienced than Gold Locks.”
Lily is on her star Ulysses NZPH who won the series opener in Hawke’s Bay in October. Emily and Belischi HM won the third leg of the series at Feilding and will be back with vengeance without doubt. Tegan won the Hawera World Cup and has two entered for Taupo in Windermere Cappuccino, who won on his World Cup debut, and Double J Monarch. All three women are fierce competitors with talent to match.
However, there are a raft of other riders keen to nab their slice of success at World Cup level. Eventing Olympian and World Champs representative Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) is one of those. He has made no secret of his desire to don a silver fern in a second discipline. Last season he and Quainton Labyrinth placed second in the league final and he’ll be looking to stake his claim.
Taupo teen Briar Burnett-Grant will be making the most of her hometown advantage, lining up on Fiber Fresh Veroana who has twice finished second this season. Melody Matheson (Hastings) and Graffiti MH are always ones to watch. They’ve been competing in the series since 2017 and won two rounds last season, including at the Christmas Classic.
Logan Massie (Dannevirke) has entered aboard Intellect who has been solid for him this season, with third at Hawera their best effort.
Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) just keeps getting better aboard LT Holst Andrea who were second at the series opener at Hastings and were twice third last season while Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) is one to watch aboard his homebred mare Mea I who were third in the latest World Cup round at Feilding.
Tom Tarver (Kawerau) is entered aboard Popeye, who has had just one World Cup start, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) and her stallion Bravado Ego Z have two to their credit with a fourth their best effort, Helen McNaught (Taupo) has done just two World Cup starts with Kiwi Bird, and Daniel Blundell (Auckland) picked up a seventh on Athena NZPH in their only World Cup start.
First-timers Nakeysha Lammers (New Plymouth) lines up on her homebred gelding Resolution, Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) aboard her Olympic Cup winner Euro Sport Centavos and Alexa Randall (Auckland) on LC Tango. The top courses at the show will be designed by Gary Sinclair.
After Taupo there are just two rounds left – at the Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay Jumping Show (January 4-6) and the grand finale at the Waitemata World Cup Festival in Auckland (January 11-13). Riders’ best four scores will count to decide series honours with the victor having the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the Longines Jumping FEI World Cup Final in Goteborg (SWE) in April where the best from each league around the globe go head-to-head.
FEI World Cup New Zealand League leaderboard (after three rounds): Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) 41 points 1, Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) and Logan Massie (Dannevirke) 34 =2, Melody Matheson (Hastings) 32 4, Lily Tootill (Karaka) and Brooke Edgecombe (Waipukurau) 29 =5, Emily Hayward (Te Awamutu) 27 7, Jasmine Sketchley (Whangarei) 24 8, Fraser Tombleson (Gisborne) 22 9, Tegan Fitzsimon (Christchurch) 20 10.
WHAT: Taupo Christmas Classic 2018
WHEN: December 13-16, 2018 – World Cup class Saturday, December 15
WHERE: National Equestrian Centre, Taupo
MORE INFO: www.main-events.com
WORLD CUP LEADERBOARD: https://www.nzequestrian.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/Ranking-05.12.18.pdf