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Showjumping's Holy Grail comes to the Bay

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Heart-stopping action from the best in Australasia is the order of the day at Showjumping’s Holy Grail at the iconic Church Road Winery on Sunday.

The first of the Mitavite Trans Tasman two test series is set to be enjoyed by hundreds in the stunning boutique setting in Taradale.

New Zealand has named a team featuring an artful mix of experience and youth. Heading the team are World Equestrian Championship team-mates, Olympians Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) aboard the home-bred Dunstan Daffodil and Samantha McIntosh (Cambridge) on her imported mare Estina. Backing them up is Canterbury farrier Ross Smith on his imported stallion Quite Cassini and young gun Luke Dee (Ocean Beach) on Ombudsman, who recently won the New Zealand World Cup final.

Keen to gain bragging rights are Australia’s best Alison Rowland (Western Australia) on Bickley Brook Bella (owned by Peter Cooke, Nicol Taylor and Rowland), Rory Hovelle (Western Australia) on Yalambi's Val d'Isere, Sharon Slater (New South Wales)on Ulixes and Tom McDermott (New South Wales) on Romantic Dream (owned by Simon, Brenda, Sam and Jess Tripp).

As well as the senior test, young riders from each side of the Tasman will also go head to head. New Zealand has named Logan Massie (Dannevirke) on Kiwi Ludo (owned by Massie and Annette Scott), Rosie Commons on Glenara Chandon, Bridget Hansen (Ocean Beach) on Shakespeare NZPH and Melody Matheson (Hastings) on Cheltenham.
The Australians have sent Jack Maunder (New South Wales) on Cyra, James Arkins (New South Wales) on Dreamtime Invader, Nicole Bruggeman (South Australia) on Blusta and Sarah Beale (New South Wales) on Alpha Centuri.

The Holy Grail is a new initiative, but challenge director Kevin Hansen is hoping it will become an annual clash.

“To hold an event of this caliber in the park-like grounds of Church Road Winery is the perfect match,” says Hansen.

“Spectators will be treated to some really special on Sunday.”

He’s encouraging families to pack a picnic and make the most of what promises to be a magic afternoon.

The action gets underway at 11.15am, with the Trans Tasman senior test at 3.15pm. The day also includes a dressage display from Jody Hartstone (Raglan) and her newly-imported Lusitano stallion Ali Baba.

The second Trans Tasman Test is at the New Zealand Horse of the Year next Friday (March 15) as part of the Hawke’s Bay Today Friday Night Extravaganza.

Tickets for Sunday’s Holy Grail are available for $12 from the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds Horse of the Year office from 9am on Saturday, or for $15 at Church Road on the day.

Buses will be going from the Elwood Road international stables to Church Road at 10.30am on Sunday, and returning at 4pm after the event.

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