It may be winter here in the States, but it’s high spring in New Zealand and peak event season is ON. Puhinui International Horse Trials in Auckland is a big fixture on the calendar, headlined by a CCI3* class that will be contested by 11 horse/rider combinations.
Australian designer Ewan Kellett, known for his work at Melbourne International Three-Day Event as well as in Great Britain and Asia, was called in to design the CCI3* and 2* cross country courses for the Puhinui just nine weeks ago. Despite the tight timeline and a lot of rain he has introduced some exciting changes.
Ewan knew the event by reputation but hadn’t seen the course himself. In an interview for Cross Country App with rider Christen Hayde on Tuesday, he explained, “To come here really nothing about the venue was quite challenging, and knowing that within nine weeks I had to pull together a CCI2* and 3* was daunting. Thankfully by the same token I was fairly confident we could get it done.”
Most years the ground at Puhinui tends toward being hard, but several downpours of late have left the course on the soft, puddly side. “Hopefully the sunshine and the wind will do their job through the rest of the week and we don’t get to much more rain,” Ewan said, and the outlook seems favorable, with forecasts showing just a 10% chance of rain on Saturday.
Ewan sums up the course: “It’s consistent from the star to the finish. They’ve got to maintain the horse’s confidence, get them to jump and turn, jump and stay straight — it’s a good three-star test.”
Puhinui kicked off with the first horse inspection on Thursday afternoon followed by dressage on Friday. For live coverage we recommend keeping an eye on An Eventful Life, which will be reporting on all the latest.
Here’s a CCI3* course preview with video commentary from Ewan at key combinations, courtesy of CrossCountry App.
We wish to thank CrossCountry App for all their hard work in sharing courses from around the world throughout 2018. If you’re looking for a neat, useful gift for the eventing enthusiast in your life, consider a CrossCountry App gift voucher! It’s easy to gift the app via email — here’s how.