Day 4 Wrap: EQUITANA Auckland Poised to Return in 2019

Photo: Wendi Williamson riding Don Armour MH with Jonny Hilberath during the Dressage Masterclass
It’s a wrap. Four tremendous days of fun, excitement, entertainment, inspiration and champs have drawn to a close and already there is talk of a return in 2019.

EQUITANA Auckland brought some of the very best in the world Down Under to share their knowledge – Jonny Hilberath, the German Olympic gold medal winning dressage team coach; former world number one eventer Andrew Nicholson; Australian showjumping super star Rod Brown; and America’s “most trusted” horseman John Lyons.

Each held hugely popular masterclasses. Today’s Hilberath masterclass had a very captive audience spellbound as he worked with eight riders from across the grades and explaining how best to achieve that all-essential forward motion while enjoying what they are doing.

EQUITANA managing director Rod Lockwood said he was very excited about the first show and how well it had been received by both the equine community and Auckland.

“We have a lot of plans now for the future,” said Lockwood. “As an organisation, we have learnt a lot about what needs to be improved and implemented and we have listened to the feedback from ticket buyers and will be acting on that for 2019.”

IRT The Way of The Horse more than delivered at EQUITANA Auckland with Coastie Tui Teka reigning supreme after four inspiring days of competition.

TWOTH featured Kiwis Tui Teka and Emily Weibel and Australians Sharna Little and Brett Davey spending just four hours over the entire event, taking unhandled three-year-old horses from wild to willing over the four days.

It proved a huge hit with the audience, with numbers growing by the day. All of the work was done under the watchful eyes of judges Hilberath, Nicholson and Lyons.

Australia won trans Tasman bragging rights.

Ainsley Polo – Kel Ainsley and Daniel Worker – took out the EQUITANA Auckland Open Land Rover Polo Championships after two days of exciting play, beating Auckland Polo – Marcus Beresford and Matt Bayley – 6-1. Ainsley Polo also won the prize for best playing pony. Worker Contracting – Will Hunt and Gustavo Peckerle – took out the B Final by beating Tiger Building – John Martin and Alex Richardson.

Julie Brougham added a second open dressage title to her trophy cabinet today when she won the inaugural Kubota EQUITANA New Zealand Open Grand Prix.

She and Vom Feinsten were a class act, scoring 70.63%, with John Thompson (Hamilton) and JHT Antonello second on 69.5%, and Wendi Williamson (Kumeu) and Dejavu MH third on 68.9%.

The win by Brougham (Palmerston North) backed up her win in the ATEED New Zealand Open Freestyle Grand Prix to Music earlier in the event.

The Rio Olympian and her German-bred chestnut seem to be getting better and better, and are now chasing qualifying scores for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in the United States.

“It was one of the scariest moments of my life, purchasing a horse in Germany,” she said, “But it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.”

She paid tribute to her feisty chestnut, saying she simply wouldn’t have an identity without him. Brougham was rapt with today’s test.

“It was a good test, with no errors at all,” she said. “The arena out there was the best surface I have ridden on in New Zealand without a doubt. It makes such a difference and is vital to us.”

She praised the foresight of EQUITANA Auckland director Kevin Hansen.

“I am just thrilled that Kevin has brought EQUITANA to Auckland. He has really improved the standard in providing us with such a good surface. We are all so glad to have exposure to an event like this, and from a competitor point of view we have loved it.”
She looked forward to competing at EQUITANA again in the future.