Over 200 horses and riders from all over New Zealand are converging on Auckland this weekend to compete in the prestigious Puhinui International 3 Day Event.

The event, commencing Friday 11th of December and concluding on Sunday 13th, is held at the Puhinui Reserve, next to Auckland Airport.  It is one of only two events held in New Zealand at the highest possible level of equestrian eventing.  While Olympians Sir Mark Todd, Vaughn Jefferis and Australian Stuart Tinney have all had their names engraved on the trophy in previous years, none of the field in this year’s top class have ever won the trophy before.

The premiere class is the Honda NZ CCI3*, with nine competitors aiming to secure the trophy and winners purse of $2,000.  The event also marks the halfway stage in the year-long Equestrian Sports NZ eventing series.  The cream of NZ eventing riders will be vying for points on offer in the Eventing Super League.

Manawatu’s Katharine van Tuyl and her talented young horse, Double J Sunshine are currently in second position in the Super League. A top three placing would see her overtake the current leaders, Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation who are not competing, having recently returned from being placed third at the Adelaide 4* as part of their Olympic bid.

According to Katharine, “Sunny” loves the big open galloping course at Puhinui so she is hoping the step up to 3* will suit him.  “He’s looking really great at the moment after being on a mega-diet.  He loves eating, and as a warmblood can get quite fat.  We’ve also had him out training on the beach with Laura Knight’s team of racehorses, and that has helped him learn how to gallop faster.” 

Katharine has ridden at 3* level before, but not for a few years.  She thinks very highly of her horse, believing he has the ability to go all the way to the top.  She is not the only one, and as a result has had plenty of offers for the young star. “I would dearly love to keep him, unfortunately we are not millionaires, but I would love to maybe get the chance to represent my country.” 

North Cantabrian Giles Cormack and his horse Lucero have never travelled this far north for a competition, and it is also their first attempt at a CCI3*. Another Cantabrian, Emily Cammock is a seasoned competitor with overseas experience, including 4* events, but her 11 year old horse Lewis is new to this level.  “He is getting better and better and is schooling well.  He’s a cross-country machine, and his dressage is improving.  He’s only just learned his flying changes and is very exuberant, but we are calling in to have a final lesson with dressage coach Christine Weal on the way to the event.”

Local punters may well be backing Dannie Lodder from Ararimu, riding Tomahawk II.  While Dannie has had a very successful career to date, she has never won this event, having been placed 2nd in 2013 and 4th in 2012.

In the I-Spy Horses CCI2* there is a very even field of 20 competitors.  South Islanders Brent Jury (riding SE Hedging) and Kirsty Sharapoff (Shoot the Breeze) have made the big trip north, both having had good form at home.    Te Kauwhata’s Donna Smith has three in the class and is always competitive.

The Young Riders (under 21) and the Junior Riders (under 18) will compete for the 3-Day Event titles as well as chasing points in the ESNZ Eventing series. 

There are also many other events including the Veterinary Associates CCI1* which has a field of 31.  There are even more entries in the lower classes such as the Horse & Pony CCN105 and the short format competitions which start on Saturday.

The dressage is on Friday, with the exciting cross-country phase on Saturday.  Sunday morning will see the horses having to pass a veterinary inspection and then showjump to determine the final placings.

There is extra entertainment with the Equilibrium Puhinui High Jump Challenge, nick named “tip, strip or out” at lunchtime on Saturday. On Sunday, the Eventers Challenge is a fun combination of both showjumping and cross-country for those not competing in the main classes.

You can get your Christmas shopping done at some of the many trade stalls open over the weekend with something for everyone. There will also be an array of food beverage stalls available.

The event will be live streamed on www.equestrianlive.co.nz for those not able to attend in person.

More information can be found on the event’s website www.3dayevent.co.nz or the facebook page, Puhinui International Three Day Event New Zealand