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Heart-Stopping Cross Country Action Moves to the Showgrounds

Entertainment at the 2014 Horse of the Year Show is about to move to a whole new level with the announcement that the cross country phase of the eventing will be held at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds.

Show director Kevin Hansen said plenty of thought had gone into the move, with the safety of horses, riders and spectators paramount in the decision.

“We’ve been aiming to do this for a while,” he said. “This is the Horse of the Year Show – it isn’t just about showjumping and we have struggled to obtain traction with sponsorship and in getting the public to the Equestrian Park, so we feel this is a logical next step.”

Course designer John Nicholson is right behind the idea and plans are afoot to create a very spectator-friendly 3-4 kilometre course that will start on private grounds near the polo fields and traverse the showgrounds, including the main showjumping arenas and the lake.

Organisers are planning to introduce a special family pass for the Saturday afternoon with areas featuring children-orientated fun.

“Cross country is the sport recognised by the general public as being equestrian,” said Hansen. “This is our gold medal-winning sport – the disciple we are world leaders in.”

Holding such an exciting discipline at the showgrounds would make it a real highlight of the show.

“It’s our job at Event-Pro to get as many people as possible into the grounds to enjoy our sport – there is limited space in the premier arena during high profile times, but we feel Saturday afternoon is the perfect time and having it run throughout the showgrounds widens that audience considerably.”

Hansen said there were many positives to the move, including plenty more room for the public.

“Health and safety is at the top of the list and I promise, this will be the most safety-conscious event ever held in New Zealand,” he said. “The amount of detail on health and safety for this operation is huge.”

Around 200 extra staff will be brought in for the cross country, including 150 volunteers, extra officials and others.

“This will be, without doubt, one of the biggest successes of the 2014 show.”