New Cross Country Course Taking Shape

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(Cross country course designer John Nicholson (right) gives NRM Horse of the Year Show director Kevin Hansen the low down on one of the new jumps at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds. Photography by KAMPIC)

Saw by saw and nail by nail the new NRM Horse of the Year Show cross country course at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds is coming together.

Cross country maestro John Nicholson has been in Hawke’s Bay for more than a week with his helpers Mark McCauley, Chris Lever and Donna Harley. All have built courses with Nicholson before..

And he is stoked with the efforts.

“It is going really well,” said the Kihikihi-based Nicholson. “Any doubt we hear from those who don’t want the course at the showgrounds just makes me even more determined!”

They have built jumps in the park, the woods and other places. Spectators who base themselves near the lake and are prepared for a short walk, will be able to see around 15 jumps.

Nicholson is aiming for around 25 or so jumps that will be used in the two and three star courses.

“It is so exciting to see it all coming together. CIC courses are designed to make the sport exciting, just like one day cricket . . . I think we have definitely given them something to watch.”

Horse of the Year Show director Kevin Hansen says the progress the small but very efficient team has made is impressive.

“It is terrific,” he says. “They’re all there flat out from early in the morning until dark. It is just fantastic what John is creating.”

Hansen had a bit of a fight on his hands when he mooted moving the cross country from the Equestrian Park to the Showgrounds. However, he’s more than confident that it is the perfect thing to do for the show and the discipline.

“This is one of our premier events of the show and belongs here at the showgrounds with the showjumping and dressage,” he says.

The finished course will be 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, as well as a VIP area too.

“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,” said Hansen. “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.

(Photos: KAMPIC Photography)