14 Feb
14 February 2018

Manfeild set for second GP

THE second phase of Manfeild’s Grand Prix double-header opens tomorrow (Thursday, February 15) with top-flight competition and a massive national turnout expected.

The Feilding venue has been in a turmoil of activity, with crews cleaning up after the country’s biggest domestic motor-racing event, the New Zealand Grand Prix contested on February 11, synching smoothly with preparation for the Bates NZ Championships.

The country’s largest and most crucial dressage undertaking  has attracted a bumper entry of 186 horses and more than 140 riders (because some have more than one mount), with a range of high-profile events – some also with Grand Prix status.

Dressage is riding a wave of popularity and that has reflected in the support, event manager Celine Filbee says.

“We have very good entries this year. We had record entries at close and, though you can always expect some people to subsequently scratch because perhaps their horse has sustained a late injury, we are feeling really happy.

“One thing that has worked for us is the introduction of amateur championships as well as the open championships – we were acting on feedback from riders and as soon as we implemented that we saw a big increase in entries.

“We have also had strong entries in the international classes; at close of entries we’ve had more Grand Prix entries than we’ve ever previously seen, with 14 horses.

“They are the best in New Zealand and they are all vying for a place on the New Zealand team in the world equestrian games in the United States in September.”

All the big competitions and a key public drawcard, the Saturday night Dressage Musical Spectacular, are within Manfeild Stadium, on the indoor arena, sponsored for this occasion by Weatherbeeta.

The Spectacular will feature the Cartown FEI CDI Grand Prix Freestyle to Music as well as the Kiwi Arena Rake National Grand Prix and various entertainment acts which are sure to be crowd-pleasers including a Para Equestrian demonstration that will be hugely inspirational.

General admission, ringside dinner table tickets are available through Eventfinda.

The four days of competition includes an international component comprising a CDI 3* which is also an FEI World Games 2018 qualifier. Here for the first time is a CDI 2* at intermediate level (NZL level eight) and Grand Prix, a CDIY for the under 21s and a CDIP for the pony riders.

At national level there are open grade championships, masters, amateurs, para equestrian championships and the super five North Island and series finals.

The class is also the final round for the coveted title of the Bates National Champion for 2018. Individually choreographed dressage tests are accompanied by music of the rider’s choice and judged by a panel of highly credentialed international officials from Denmark, Germany, Australia and NZ.

Competition will include equine stars that have competed at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and International competitions in both Australia and Europe.

Flavouring the event is celebration of sponsor Bates Saddles’ 20 years of support of the championships.

Manfeild chief executive Julie Keane says the dressage championships brings out the best that Manfeild can offer.

“We always love having the Dressage NZ team here. It’s a very professionally-run event that attracts the country’s top riders and provides a great opportunity for us to showcase the venue, especially to the equestrian world.”

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Caption: Bates New Zealand Dressage Championships event manager Celine Filbee (left) and Manfeild chief executive Julie Keane with five-year-old Delta, the first arrival for the big national equestrian event.