HoY: Top tips for newbies

Stalls for all: Stands range from plants and clothes to outdoor furniture and food, and, of course, horse stuff.

There are still two days to go at Horse of the Year – and they are the best days.

One of its biggest fans, Horse of the Year board chairwoman Cynthia Bowers, is urging locals to get along for a look. She has some very good tips for newbies as well. “If I had never been before I would first have a wander around the stalls (there are lots for the non-horsey as well as a huge food court) and then park myself in the grandstand and watch the competition in the main ring.

“Then, head down to ringside and stand near one of the jumps. There really is nothing like it; as the horses take the jump you will feel their strength, hear them and smell them, and hear the riders talking to their horses. It really is magical.

“Then look further afield; heading towards the State Highway 2 end of the grounds, you will pass the dressage arena, then over the bridge to see the younger riders, the show hunter classes and the mounted games. The mounted games are really great for kids to watch; they are fast action races with the riders doing things like picking up objects as they race for the finish.”

Encouraging Hawke’s Bay residents to get along to take a look at HoY has been a big focus this year. Locals have been offered a two tickets for one deal, children encouraged to enter a HOY-themed colouring competition, and schools have been invited to events likely to interest them.

Broadening the off-ring entertainment and range of stalls has also been part of the drive to encourage more Hawke’s Bay people to head through the gate. “We know that not everyone is mad about horses or understands the competitions, but we have no doubt that anyone can enjoy the magic of watching these beautiful animals and their talented riders flying over jumps or ‘dancing’ in the dressage rings,” says Mrs Bowers.

There is a food court with all kinds of offerings, plant and garden furniture stalls, a home and living section; even a company selling the most glamourous tents for those with a penchant for ‘glamping’.

Getting to and from Horse of the Year is very easy. This year for the first time there are free buses dropping people off at Horse of the Year every hour: from Burger King in Heretaunga St (10 past the hour); Hastings i-Site in Russell St (20 past the hour) and Havelock North i-Site, half past the hour). The full timetable is at: hoy.kiwi/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FREE-Nimons-HOY-Shuttle-Bus-Timetable-FINAL-1.pdf