The FEI Group IX Inter Africa Cup Competition was held over the weekend of 28th/29th/30th April, 2017 in Gaborone and was hosted by the Horse Society of Botswana. It is the first time in the history of this prestigious competition that it has been held in Botswana.
Thirteen National Federations were invited to participate in the event. However only the Namibian, South African and Swaziland teams accepted this invitation.
Serious logistical obstacles were faced and overcome by the enthusiastic visiting teams in order to land safely in Gaborone. Challenges included long journeys in the heat, poorly maintained roads, arriving in the dark, the frustrations of delays at border posts, high costs and the immense organisation required to undertake such a long trek. Riders, family members, supporters, grooms and horses travelled over 1200 kilometres in fifteen hours across the Kalahari Desert from Namibia. The Swaziland team travelled for 1200 kilometres in over twelve hours and the South African Team travelled 800 kilometres over eight hours to reach Gaborone.
Sadly, it emerged that the visiting teams had been misled with reference to the stabling facilities and were appalled to discover that the “stables” in which competitors would be forced to house their very pricy horses were scaffolding structures with a piece of shade cloth as a roof. This was tantamount to their horses sleeping outside which they had never done and were not equipped to do – having always been housed in brick stables at home. Hasty arrangements had to be made for family members to rush to Botswana with extra blankets for the horses. Many of the competitors were horrified and indicated that they would never be returning to compete in Botswana. However once the initial shock wore off, people calmed down and the great vibe returned.
The Gaborone business community generously supported the show. Sponsorship was obtained from Spar, Nashua, Clover, Ross Breeders, Deloitte, Haskins, Satib, Hewlett Packard, Avis, NTT Nissan, Old Mutual, Uni-Span, Windhoek Breweries, Northside Primary School, Botswana Rugby Club, Security Services, Neil’s Feed and Fodder, Rescue One, Capital Bank and Barclays Bank.
The show was held at two venues in Ruretse in the north of Gaborone. The dressage events were held at Herbie’s Haven Stables in Ruretse and the show-jumping events were held at Penndragon Equestrian Centre a few kilometres down the road.
The Dressage judges were Mary Robins from England and Susen Human from Mozambique. The Show-Jumping Judges were Mary Binks from Kenya, and Teresa Fitt from Botswana
The show started on Friday morning with the Vet Trot Up and Inspection to ensure that all the horses entered in the competition for dressage and show-jumping were sound and fit to compete. Dr. Mbatshi Mazwiduma and Dr Tasneem Arbi were the Veterinary surgeons tasked with this rather thankless job. With only a few horses excluded by the vets, the show commenced.
The Individual Dressage Classes starting at 9.00am with Medium tests, Elementary Medium tests, Elementary tests and finally Novice tests which were completed at 5.00pm. South Africa
After a long day, a cocktail party followed on Friday evening at the Phakalane Golf Hotel for all the riders where the teams were announced.
On Saturday morning the day kicked off at Herbie’s Haven Stables with a Team Parade followed by the Team Dressage Tests which were concluded by noon. The Team Dressage Competition consisted of one team of three riders from each National Federation. Each rider rode two tests and the combined percentages per level counted per team.
The show then moved to Penndragon Equestrian Centre and the Welcome Stakes show-jumping started at 1.00pm with the height set at 1.20M working down to 0.90cms. Some very exciting show jumping commenced in the Welcome Stakes which comprised a course of ten jumps ridden against the clock, where a clear round ridden in the fastest time would win the class. In the 1.20m Class,
1st place went to Nadine Flemming on Seeis Shelton (Team Namibia). The 1.10m Class saw 1st place scooped up by 14-year-old Kelci Cronje on Winslow Cayenne (Team South Africa). The 1.00m Class was won by 15-year-old Rensche vd Westhuizen, riding Quantico 11 (Team South Africa) and finally the 90cm class was cinched by Mehl Nagindas on Inca Lake (Team Swaziland). Although none of the individual classes were won by Botswana rider’s, during the first day’s Show-Jumping there were some solid performances – most notably the strong second place of Tollie Sibanda aboard Pearl Naylor’s, Callaho Lucie in the 1.00m class.
At 3.30pm the mounted prize giving for the Dressage took place. To the joy of the Botswana Team supporters it was announced that the team Dressage event had been won by Botswana! Historically this is Botswana’s first win and it was perhaps more satisfying to have secured it on home turf.
Botswana had claimed their victory with 395.94 points, narrowly beating Namibia into second with 392.83 points and South Africa with 379.93 points. The Botswana National Anthem was played and the Botswana flag was proudly displayed as the team completed their victory lap.
At 8.00am on Sunday morning the Championship Show-Jumping started with 0.90cms working up to 1.20M. The Championship course had eleven jumps, comprising of five uprights, three parallels, one offset parallel, one fan and one double combination with four changes of rein and was 410metres long. Riders were required to jump the first round clear after which those clear rounds would have to face off over a shortened course against the clock. In the 1.20m class 1st place went to Nadine Flemming on Seeis Shelton from Namibia, who rode beautifully to secure her victory remaining unbeaten in the individual classes. 1st place in the 1.10m class was once again won by young Kelci Cronje on Winslow Cayenne from South Africa, who also retained her unbeaten record in the individual classes. Winning place in the 1.00m class was scooped up by Tollie Sibanda on Pearl Naylor’s Callaho Lucie for Team Botswana. The 90cm class was won by Seamus O’Neill on Havenspride State Symphony from Botswana.