The Nissan Winter Classic, which forms the third of five elite events that make up the South African leg of the World Cup Jumping qualifiers, annually attracts international-level showjumping champions. At the 2018 edition, taking place at Shongweni Club from 12 to 17 June, spectators will get to watch incredible skills performed by a number of top riders from across the country.
One competitor who will be making the long trek from Port Elizabeth is professional jockey-turned-showjumper, Charles Roberts.
“After having a fall as a jockey in 2004, I was unable to continue horseracing and Diane Botes (showjumper, horse dealer and instructor) persuaded me to give showjumping a go,” said the 53-year-old rider. “After riding some thoroughbreds, Diane bought First For Horses Callaho For Ray and the two of us, having started our showjumping careers together, have formed a strong partnership.”
Roberts will be riding his beloved First For Horses Callaho For Ray in the 1.20m classes and First For Horses Callaho Valencia in the 1m classes at this year’s Nissan Winter Classic – Roberts’ third time competing in the event.
“Ray and I are very competitive,” continued Roberts. “We have ended up tops in the 1.20m combination in South Africa for the last two years. We have very good shows at Revil in Polokwane, as well as the Nissan Easter Festival and Nissan Winter Classic.”
Commenting on the latter event, Roberts described it as ‘one of the best shows on the South African calendar’, adding: “It’s very far to travel from Port Elizabeth but I usually have a great show and hope 2018 is also successful. Not only is Shongweni a great venue, but the Nissan Winter Classic is a well-run, exciting show. We love watching the top riders in action as well as the fun events. Grant Langley runs a world class show!”
The Nissan Winter Classic welcomes a number of upcoming development riders to the competitive field this year, including Eric Gaza and Jethro Bouwer.
“This is my first time competing in the Nissan Winter Classic and I’m nervous but excited – it’s the biggest showjumping event in KZN,” said Jethro Bouwer, a 20-year-old rider from Gauteng. Bouwer’s family owned Elevation Equestrian Centre and he has been riding since the age of five. About 10 years ago, he got into competitive showjumping and hasn’t looked back.
“I really enjoy the connection with the horse, the bond that’s created when riding,” said Bouwer. “The atmosphere and excitement of competing in showjumping is great.”
Bouwer is competing in the adult 1m classes on Capital Centric and Foresyte Bator.
There will also be several former champions taking to the Michel Ismalun-designed course, among them Lorette Knowles-Taylor, Nicole Horwood and Jonathan Clark, and a line-up of top junior riders earmarked for the Olympics – Thomas Triggol, Matthew Morrison and Shian de Beer.
The 2018 edition will have a range of exciting competitive events taking place over the six days including the 1.15 Filtec Pony Riders Championship and 1.50m Nissan Riders Grand Prix Tour; the popular Nissan 6-bar event (for juniors and adults); the 1.40m Nissan Championships and the main title class – the 1.5m Nissan FEI World Cup Qualifier. The talented Zecks and Viceroy will perform alongside the Ingobamakhosi Zulu Dance Group in a high-energy show before the start of the 6-bar class.
Visitors attending this family-friendly event will be able to take advantage of a number of additional activities, including the ever-popular Nissan vehicle display and test drive; a dedicated kids’ zone play area; and a variety of market stalls.
For more information about the Nissan Winter Classic, check Nissan Winter Classic 2018 and SA Showjumping on Facebook, visit www.foresyte.co.za, or contact Grant Langley on 082 859 2160. The Nissan Winter Classic 2018 is sponsored by Nissan, Epol, Avalon Aviation, Equipage, CWD, Western Shoppe, Equestrian House, Natal Saddlery, Horze, Stubben, Equifeeds, Sir Fruit, L’Ormarins, Equipe, Adawnment, Filtec, Topbet and Jeep Outdoor Apparel.