Showjumping's Holy Grail launched

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New Zealand’s best will take on their Australian counterparts in Showjumping’s Holy Grail – Australia v New Zealand test match at the Church Road Winery in Hawke’s Bay.

The top-flight event was announced today (Monday) at the winery, with some of the stars likely to line up against the visitors on hand to celebrate the March 2013 event.

Olympian Maurice Beatson, who has a bolt-away lead in the 2012-2013 World Cup New Zealand series and young gun Luke Dee would be unlucky not to be named in the teams – Beatson in the senior team and Dee in the young rider.

Australia is sending the two teams to battle it out on March 10, the Sunday before the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show in Hastings. The event  will include the first of a two test series between the staunch rivals, with the second being at the show the week after.

Challenge director Kevin Hansen is ecstatic about the new event to be held in the park-like grounds of the iconic Church Road Winery.

“This is extremely exciting for us,” says Hansen. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Church Road Winery as the venue for this fantastic new concept..”

Four person teams from each country will be chasing the $8,000 prize purse in a Nations’ Cup type format – which means two full rounds of jumping, followed by a jump-off if needed.

The Australians will be bringing their own horses to New Zealand for the test series, with the young rider Trans-Tasman test the build-up to the big one.

“There’s plenty of interest in that, but we’re just waiting for confirmation on who will be coming,” he says.

Also on the card for the boutique event will be another team’s event, put together by the nation’s top riders. Each team will comprise two senior riders (who will jump up to 1.4m), two young riders (who will jump up to 1.3m) and two pony riders (who will jump up to 1.2m).

“We’re hoping the stars of showjumping will put together some rather smart teams for this one,” says Hansen.

Hosting such an event at Church Road Winery is a fantastic opportunity to showcase their unique and iconic outdoor Hawke’s Bay venue.

“We’re thrilled to have Showjumping’s Holy Grail in the grounds and park-like setting of Church Road Winery, the perfect place to spend the day when visiting Hawke’s Bay,” says Peter Hurlstone, regional winemaking and operations manager from Church Road Winery.

Church Road Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Hawke’s Bay, founded in 1897, with a proud history dating back over one hundred and fifteen years. Church Road Winery is steeped in heritage and is undeniably enjoyable.

The showjumping challenge will run from midday through to 4pm on Sunday, March10, at the Church Road Winery grounds, 150 Church Road, Taradale, Hawke’s Bay.

Tickets will be available at the gate on the day.

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