Plenty of talent on show in Gore

Gore's A & P Showgrounds will be filled with the South Island's best dressage riders and horses this weekend.

Dressage Southland is hosting the Harper Horsecoaches/Mataura Licensing Trust South Island Dressage Championships and the entries feature a number of quality combinations.

Competitors are travelling from around the South Island with many coming from Canterbury as well as two combinations making the long journey from Blenheim.

In addition to riding for South Island titles, combinations will also be building up points towards national accumulators.

Buoyed by the generous support of local businesses, Dressage Southland was looking forward to hosting the competition, group president Kristin Cottam said.

"We are thrilled to be hosting the championships this season and are blown away with the level of support we have received from riders who have committed to travelling to Gore to compete."

Most exciting is the depth of quality in the higher grades.

Fifteen combinations are entered in the levels 6 and 7 championship and it appears to be an even contest, with no outright favourite for the event.

Jenny Affleck, of Balclutha, will be stepping out for the first time this season on the evergreen Boss II after a trip to the London Paralympics, where she groomed for Anthea Gunner.

She will meet stiff competition from last season's defending champion, Tracey Johnson and Apollo 4, who are committed to making the trip from their Marlborough base.

Three young riders are also entered and are sure to keep their more experienced competitors honest.

They are Siobhan Fauth and Hollywood Superstar (Canterbury), Hannah Johnston and Just Hollie (Otago) and Kate Maclean and Oscar Del A Hoya (Central Otago).

The competition starts at 10am tomorrow, with prizegiving scheduled for 1pm on Sunday. The more technically demanding higher levels complete their tests from 9am on Sunday.

The Southland Times