NZ Local News

All roads lead to Hastings’ Horse of the Year Show

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >

It’s been three years in the making but the gates are about to open at the 2024 Land Rover Horse of the Year Show.

The six-day programme, which starts officially in Hastings on Tuesday, includes New Zealand’s best onshore equestrian combinations duking it out for the top titles across multiple disciplines including showjumping, dressage and eventing, among others.

The show, which costs about $2.5m to put on, has been cancelled three years on the trot thanks to Covid and Cyclone Gabrielle.

Organisers have put huge effort into ensuring the bar is lifted at this special event. ”It has been a very humbling three years,” event director Sophie Blake said.

“Extremely humbling and a real emotional roller coaster. It is an honour to be a part of this community.”

Flash back to 2018 when teen Briar Burnett-Grant became the youngest to ever win the Olympic Cup as Showjumper of the Year. Photo / Libby Law Photography
Flash back to 2018 when teen Briar Burnett-Grant became the youngest to ever win the Olympic Cup as Showjumper of the Year. Photo / Libby Law Photography

She’s talking about the sponsors and riders who left money in the show in the past three years.

“It’s that 100 per cent commitment when most non-industry commercials would have just walked away. People really do have our back . . . and that’s the very heart of our event. It is who and what we are. We are inclusive and aspirational, and people actually get that. Roll on the return of HOY.”

The Aussies are here with their horses as part of the Oceania eventing teams’ challenge which has senior and young rider teams chasing glory over three days.

Saturday’s cross country brings the rest of the Tōmoana Showgrounds to a halt and is akin to the greats of Burghley and Badminton with thousands lining the course.

The Eventer of the Year will be presented the inaugural Sir Mark Todd Trophy, which is one he won at Badminton in 1994 aboard Horton Point.

But the jewel in the crown is surely the Olympic Cup which will be presented to the winner of the Showjumper of the Year title on Sunday afternoon. Organisers describe it as “the best of the best” of New Zealand’s onshore jumpers and never fails to inspire and entrance.

Also on Sunday afternoon is the Dressage Horse of the Year crown which will be decided after the FEI Freestyle to Music class which combines skill with a rather large dose of magic as each combination does their own test to music.

Free for All Friday will see the gates open to everyone from 2pm so the local community can get a taste of just what HOY is all about.

There will plenty to watch with both the premier showjumping and dressage arenas in full action.

Blake said there’s something very special about watching the partnership between horse and rider as they compete at high level in the Olympic sports of showjumping, eventing and dressage.

Thousands from all over New Zealand will head to Hawke’s Bay for the annual event, with competitors from the full length of the nation – the very deep south to the top of the north.

* The show runs at Hastings’ Tōmoana Showgrounds from March 5-10.

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