Glorious weather, a fantastic setting and international-level showjumping have drawn big crowds to the first three days of the Nissan Winter Classic being held at Durban Shongweni Club in KwaZulu-Natal.
This annual five-day event forms part of the FEI World Cup Qualifier Series and attracts the highest level of showjumpers.
“Everybody is raving about the showjumping and the glorious weather,” said event spokesman, Jodi Wolhuter. “Mike Whitfield, Managing Director of Nissan SA, was there on Saturday 13 June and he is just thrilled by the venue and level of riding.”
Sealing an early victory on day one with the 1.30m class win was Lorette Knowles-Taylor riding Nissan Animous. Colin Ferreira took second place on Superclean Phoenix 2.
In the 1.40m class, also on Friday 12 June, the top spot was won by Phillippa Baxter on Burntwood with Ronnie Healy riding Griphon Rouge in second place.
“One of the highlights must be Ronnie Healy’s form so far,” said Wolhuter. “After taking second place on day one, he and Griphon Rouge went on to win the 1.50m speed class today. This is a big class!”
Later that day, Tiffany-Jane Wait riding Shoshone Dior came first in the 80m Championship.
Demand for spots in this year’s Nissan Winter Classic has been high with 510 horses in total and waiting lists for a number of classes.
“We have a limited number of hours in the day that the horses can jump so it’s limited to 240 horses for each of the two arenas,” said Wolhuter.
Designed by FEI Level 3* course designer, Michel Ismalun of France, this year’s course has been described by riders as “fantastic” but certainly not easy.
Top South African rider, Johan Lotter, who has represented his country at the World Equestrian Games and is riding in all the top classes this year, said the course was “very challenging!”.
Riders are up to the challenge, said Wolhuter and there are many exciting classes for spectators to look forward to over the next few days.
“Today saw top pony riders competing as well as the Grand Prix which started at about 11am.
On Monday is the thrilling Nissan 6 Bar Competitions and Tuesday is the Nissan World Cup Qualifier.”
Visitors to this year’s Nissan Winter Classic can also browse a variety of quality craft stalls and sample some of the delicious food available at the restaurant or various food stalls. This family-friendly event has entertainment for the children in the form of a fun kids’ play area.
Keep up-to-date with the 2015 Nissan Winter Class on Twitter #NissanWinterClassic or on Facebook at 2015 Nissan Winter Classic.