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The figures are in . . . the 2014 NRM Horse of the Year Show was a record-breaker.

That makes HOY show director Kevin Hansen a very happy man.

More than 83,000 people flooded through the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds gates over the six days, meaning an extra 8,500 tickets were sold this year.

“The cross country has a lot to do with those improved figures,” says Hansen.

He took the bull by the horns and moved Saturday’s cross country from the Hawke’s Bay Equestrian Park to the showgrounds. It was controversial and there were plenty of naysayers. However, history tells a different story and People’s Day drew nearly 20,000 to the showgrounds to be part of the excitement. Riders were full of praise for the course and the buzz it created at the grounds was palpable.

“Moving the cross country seems to be a huge success,” says Hansen. “There were a couple of small things I wasn’t happy with – like the lack of sound at the Waikoko Gardens – but largely it was a huge success. Looks like we will have to do it again!”

He was grateful for the expertise, professionalism and assistance of technical delegate Andy Bowles and course designer John Nicholson.

But there were also so many other highlights too, including Sir Mark Todd’s return, Katie McVean, Philippe Le Jeune and more.

That included Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) notching her fifth JB Olympic Cup victory.

“She really showed her class.”

As the winner, McVean will now head to China for an all expenses paid trip to compete in a Chinese World Cup later this month.

Current world champion showjumper Philippe Le Jeune (Belgium) was a big hit with the riders and spectators, and told the packed grandstand at the JB Olympic Cup prizegiving that he would like to return.

Sir Mark Todd is always a treat at the show and thoroughly enjoyed his visit – the second in consecutive years.

Hansen is hopeful the visiting delegation of riders, coaches and businesspeople from China will become a regular fixture at the show.

Of course, no HOY would be complete without the Australians, who always supply superb competition and plenty of fun.

The Taste the Bay Twilight Market turned the Land Rover Premier Arena into a bustling city square, with the thousands enjoying local produce and food, among other delicacies.

Event Freak’s live streaming also proved a hit.

More than 2500 people from New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, the Cook Islands, Denmark and others, registered to watch five days of competition. Perhaps unsurprisingly Saturday’s cross country was the most popular with nearly 5,500 hits. Total hits over the show tallied nearly 16,000.

Hansen may well be exhausted from the biggest shows ever, but plans are already well under way for 2015.

“It’s always great to sit back at the end of the week and look back on a tremendous show, and this one really is one of the best, but we are always looking to make it better next time.”

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