All go at Takapoto

Takapoto Estate Showjumping attracted 432 horses and 239 riders earlier this month. Pictured is Catherine Cameron riding Charlton Bazaar. Photo – Cheleken Photography.

A glamorous new equestrian event created by philanthropic local couple Mitch and Kate Plaw looks set to stay following its successful launch in Cambridge this month.

The event, Takapoto Estate Showjumping, has been heralded as “the dawn of a new era for show jumping in New Zealand”.

It took place at the Plaw family’s 600-acre property, Takapoto Estate, on the shores of Lake Karapiro near Finlay Park Adventure Camp, where guests arrived to enjoy four days of upmarket hospitality and top-level competition.

With around $70,000 in prize money up for grabs, the event attracted 432 horses and 239 riders – and global media attention.

“Since the show we’ve managed to get coverage in an American website and a French magazine, and the reach was also throughout Germany as well, so we had really amazing exposure around the world,” said show director Jaime Campbell.

“I think our Facebook pages the first week had 56,300 views and the next week was still 52,000 views – it just went absolutely insane.”

Campbell said the event’s creators, Cambridge couple Mitch and Kate Plaw, were “really into backing sport” and had sponsored the Black Sticks hockey team, Olympic rowing duo Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, and Cambridge’s Avantidrome cycling centre.

“They really know what it takes – they’ve worked with some incredible people – to get to the top in the sport,” she said.

Campbell, who has ridden and trained in Europe, said the event was about lifting the standard of New Zealand show jumping and taking the sport to a new level.

“A lot of places in New Zealand don’t have facilities that have great footing or great stabling or great jumps, so our idea was to create a similar experience to what riders have in Europe,” she said.

The Takapoto team employed one of the country’s best course designers, imported special lightweight gear from Europe, and used carefully placed sprinklers to ensure correct footing, Campbell said.

It also targeted the corporate business community with top notch hospitality.

“We wanted to make it similar to what you’d experience if you went to the polo,” said Campbell, who ran Auckland’s Karaka Spectacular show two years ago.

The Plaws are planning to build on the success of this year’s event, expanding it from one week to two in 2019 and beefing up prize money.

Approaches about incorporating other disciplines – show hunter, dressage and eventing – in future are being considered.

But right now, the focus was on “finishing a few things on the property” and installing “a lot more infrastructure” in preparation for next year, Campbell said.

“It’s just basically trying to grow the event to the next level.”

Historic riders in attendance…

Amongst those competing at this year’s Takapoto Estate Showjumping competition were Cambridge equestrian star Sam McIntosh and her New Zealand teammates Bruce Goodin, Richard Gardner and Daniel Meech, who made history by winning this year’s first show jumping FEI Nations Cup event in the United Arab Emirates in February.
McIntosh is currently living in southern France and building up a team of horses for five-star shows with the Plaws’ help.
“It was a short trip back to New Zealand for me to be a part of the very first Takapoto Estate show, but not one I would have missed for the world,” McIntosh said.
“To see how the show went from being paddocks one year ago to a world class competition complex now was just astounding.”
McIntosh, 42, grew up in Cambridge and still considers it home.
“This is huge for NZ and a vital step in the preparation for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September.”

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