More riders from throughout the country will be at Manfeild this weekend than were at the New Zealand dressage championships in Christchurch recently.
The North Island championships, which have retained the international component, have attracted nine grand prix-level combinations alone.
But they do include a South Islander, Lynley Stockdale on Komplete Kaos, who has her own plush indoor equestrian arena at Waimate, South Canterbury.
She won the Burkner Medal at the national championships but she will face stiff competition at Manfeild, notably from Waikato's Bill Noble on the Scottish-owned part Clydesdale stallion Airthrey Highlander. He has the New Zealand record for the top grand prix score.
Former Massey University student Hannah Appleton, now based in Hastings, will be there on Zactac Graceful, as will professional rider Kieryn Walton (Taumarunui) on Saraceni. Walton was the travelling reserve in the New Zealand team to the Sydney qualifiers for the London Olympics.
In the absence of Louisa Hill, whose horse is overseas, Taranaki's Vanessa Way will be the favourite if she brings her mount KH Arvan to its first start since arriving back from Britain. KH Arvan was an Olympics hopeful but suffered from travel issues.
The musical freestyle section of the grand prix class will take place from 6.45pm on Saturday and the technical section on Sunday morning in front of two international judges, from Australia and California. The Young Rider International freestyle class starts at 5.30pm onSaturday.
Of the Manawatu riders, Sophie deClifford (nee Akers) is leading the North Island level 7 competition on Ashbury Dolly, Susan Tomlin will be in level 6 (Prix St Georges) on Domino MH as will Ashhurst's Penny Castle, aiming for the 2016 Rio Olympics with the big, brown Holsteiner gelding, Magnus Spero.
Julie Brougham's Vom Feinstein is coming back from a ligament injury so she will ride the 5-year-old black gelding she imported from Germany in September, Furst Fellini.
- © Fairfax NZ News