Kiwi Horses The Biggest Stars In NZ’s “Riding With The Stars” Show
New Zealand’s wild Kaimanawa horses were the star of the show in the finale of the inaugural Riding with the Stars event at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on Saturday night.
The Wilson sisters brought the curtain down on the event in an adaptation of their TV show, where they recounted the history of the Kaimanawa horses, the tale of how they became involved with the New Zealand wild horses and the whirlwind success story that has shot them to success.
They had horses galloping around the arena among spotlights and live music. And after the show, thousands lined up for autographs.
A late afternoon accident saw eldest sister Vicki taken to hospital with concussion but sisters Amanda and Kelly, along with Alexa Dodson and the rest of the team, entranced the 3000-plus crowd with their show based on TV’s Keeping up with the Kaimanawas series.
The Wilson Show was the second and final night of the Riding with the Stars. On Friday night top Australian and New Zealand showjumpers and dressage riders battled it out for a share of a $16,000 prize purse.
Rio Olympic dressage hopeful John Thompson danced his way to victory, while honours in the showjumping went to the Australians – but riding New Zealand-bred horses.
It was also announced at the show that Equitana would be coming to New Zealand – the international equestrian event will be held November 16-19, 2017 in Auckland.
RWTS event director Andrew Hansen said to bring such a calibre of event back to the centre of Auckland was “critical for the development of the sport in New Zealand and Australia”.
“We are very excited to be expanding the Equitana brand that is so strong throughout Australia and the rest of the world,” said Hansen, who is also Equitana Auckland general manager.
Equitana is a wrap of entertainment, education, competition and shopping, and will run over four days at the ASB Showgrounds.
On Friday night, 12 combinations started the two-round grand prix over a tight Gerrit Beker-designed course. The only clears in the first round came from eventual winner James Arkins (AUS) aboard the New Zealand-bred Rosthwaite Vigilante II (by Voltaire II), crowd favourite Amanda Wilson aboard Showtym Cassanova and Clem Smith (AUS) on his Kiwi-bred horse Delilah (Indoctro x Flower Power).
In the second round against the clock only Vicki Wilson and Ngahiwi Showtym Premier left all the rails up but they collected a single time fault.
Running in reverse order, it came down to Smith – riding a horse bred by Katie Laurie – to go clear to take the win but it wasn’t to be as the first of the double came crashing down.
Arkins, whose horse is by New Zealand stallion Voltaire II and bred by Cherie Robinson, said he worried his second round rail had cost him the win. “I thought Clem or Vicki would catch me,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to come here and win. It was a really lovely track out there, and flowed well. The second round being a lot bigger suited my horse as he’s very scopey.”
The 24-year-old is in New Zealand for a month and will compete at the Farmlands Horse of the Year Show, before heading to France to try to make the Australian team for the Rio Olympics.
The dressage freestyle to music featured everything from classical to rock with a little bit of 1980s thrown in for good measure.
Hometown hero John Thompson and JHT Antonello wowed the crowd with their exuberance and were rewarded for their efforts with 71.87%.
Much weighed on the shoulders of Brett Parbery (AUS) and his young horse PPH Zeppelin but a few costly mistakes saw them finish second with 68.8%.
For Thompson, it was a particularly sweet victory – just 10 weeks ago he nearly lost the horse to colic, but last weekend won the New Zealand National Dressage crown and are just two marks away from getting their necessary qualifying scores to make them available for selection for Rio.
Article originally published in the HorseTalk.co.nz .