Horse Of The Year 2011 Launch Function

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Horse Of The Year

The 2011 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show was launched in style last night (Tuesday) before nearly 300 people at the Waikoko Gardens in Hastings.

Among the festivities at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds was also an honouring of two people who had done much for the show over the years. Life membership to Showjumping Hawke's Bay was awarded to former show chairman Ray Lake and long-time showing section coordinator Sue Thomas. “These two have made a huge impact on what is a very special event for the Bay,” said show director Kevin Hansen.

He was also chuffed to tell guests, sponsors, volunteers and business people from throughout Hawke's Bay, that they had attracted a record 11 Australian showjumping combinations to the show this year. “That is tremendous news for us all,” he says. “Some of them are bringing several horses.”

Many would be coming to stake a claim for the 2012 London Olympics – the first round of the Bell Tea Olympic Cup is a qualifying round for the Olympics. It was an added bonus to the show and largely only possible because HoY had again attracted world-class course designer Leopoldo Palacios (Venezuela) to build at the event.

A key part of the show is the Trans Tasman Test, which featured four-strong teams from NZ and Australia who will do battle for top dog honours during the Silver Fern Stakes. The class, the second richest of the show with a prize purse of $50,000, is part of the HB Today Friday Night Extravaganza.

“We're pushing hard to make the test a series that is held each season on both sides of the Tasman,” says Hansen.
This year the show would again feature 2500 horses and riders who would compete across 18 disciplines in 28 arenas over the six days. For the first time para equestrian is part of the show, a step Hansen says is very positive for the future and something he sees growing in years to come.

It is expected that around 76,000 spectators will flood through the gates to be entertained by the talent of so many riders and entranced by the many trade stands at the show. There's $1 million of infrastructure that has been put into the grounds for the show, and organisers have sourced $1 million in sponsorship to make it all happen. And it is the wider bay that really benefits from hosting the show, with an estimated spend of $11.52 million parted with over the six days. “This is why this event belongs in Hawke's Bay – it's good for the sport, we know how to put on a fabulous event, but it's also hugely beneficial for our region,” says Hansen

Those sentiments were reiterated by Hastings District mayor Lawrence Yule. “The Horse of the Year Show is here to stay,” he says. “There have been some challenging times in recent years, but long term it is looking good. Our council is right behind the show as our most significant event of the year.”

Bell Tea marketing manager Jessica Bailey says the event rates highly on their calendar too. “We're delighted to be associated with the show again – this is a huge event on the equestrian calendar and of course, our own Bell Tea calendar too,” she says. “It's perhaps more special this year to have the Bell Tea Olympic Cup as a qualifier for the Olympic Games and we're thrilled to be a part of the New Zealand bid.” The Bell Tea team will be at the show and expect to serve thousands of cups of tea throughout the event. All three speakers remembered the people of Christchurch and their families around New Zealand in their speeches. The Horse of the Year Show runs March 15-20.