Denton and his Suzuki have horsepower
Bernard Denton might be the biggest rider at the top level of showjumping, but even with a small mare beneath him it hasn't held them back.
The little 14-year-old chestnut mare Suzuki will be competing in the third World Cup round at Manfeild tomorrow night, just across from Denton's block of land, and they should be competitive.
They were runners-up to Dannevirke master Maurice Beatson and My Gollywog in the previous World Cup round at Waikato earlier this month.
Denton and Suzuki have won the final World Cup rounds in 2009 and 2010 and were fourth last year among a string of earlier second placings.
"It would be very nice to win on home turf," Denton said.
When Suzuki's jumping days are finished, her progeny should carry on her legacy.
"My plan is to retire her in two years' time and breed from her," Denton said.
The former Gisborne farrier is loving living at Feilding and many Poverty Bay horsepeople are staying with him this weekend.
Six riders have stayed at home because their horses spook when it comes to indoor venues like Manfeild's. That's no problem for Suzuki.
"Only a handful of horses are good indoors and outdoors; my mare is terrific," he said.
"It's a great set-up here, getting better every time they run it.
"The venue will get more and more utilised."
Denton observed that overseas the World Cup is an indoor event because it is held when everything freezes in Europe. And yet in New Zealand they are largely qualifying on outdoor arenas.
And outdoors in New Zealand the ground can get too hard and the horses bruise.
He said everything tomorrow will hinge on the surface being smooth and "quite firm".
"If it's fluffy it can add up to eight inches on a top rail."
It is the same as riding on soft or hard sand on a beach. The horse and rider judge their jump on the height of the top rail.
The opening World Cup qualifying round at Hastings in October was a month earlier than normal for Denton and he put four rails down in the first round and one in the second.
In the horse grand prix at Central Hawke's Bay on November 10, Denton headed off Beatson (on Centrico).
Denton lies third in the standings behind leader Beatson and Katie McVean.
- © Fairfax NZ News