The 2017 Nissan Winter Classic will once again attract a stellar line-up of equestrian competitors to the event taking place at the immaculate Durban Shongweni Club showgrounds from 14 to 18 June.
Competing in the showjumping spectacle – which forms the second of five elite events that make up the South African leg of the World Cup Jumping qualifiers – will be an incredible 300 leading local and international riders, among them the record-breaking Lorette Knowles-Taylor.
No stranger to this illustrious competition, Knowles-Taylor and her now-retired horse, Nissan Nabab Forever, broke the South African 6 Bar record in 2014 with a height of 2m. The pair went on to break their own record the following year with a height of 2.05m.
Although she won’t be competing in the 6 Bar this year, she will be riding Nissan Catwalk 22 – owned by the Jansen family – in the 1.50m and 1.60m classes, as well as competing on two youngsters in the 1.30m classes and 1.40m classes on Nina Lambrakis’ Nissan Contest.
“The Nissan Winter Classic is an amazing show,” said the excited rider. “The organising team does an amazing job and Nissan really puts in a lot from their side, financially and entertainment-wise. It’s a family show and the crowds at the Shongweni Club are amazing!”
Commenting on training for the upcoming show, Knowles-Taylor said she’d been working with husband, Barry, a top South African coach and her trainer for the past two decades.
“Although it’s difficult being taught by a family member, I have been very diligent this year trying to listen to every word without answering back!” she laughed. “Preparations have been going to plan and the horses are on form. We have been jumping gymnastic exercises and recently returned from a trip to the Hamburg derby where we were privileged enough to watch the best in the world compete in all the legs of the Hamburg Global champions tour. Coming from this, Barry has recreated some of the difficult jumping lines that we witnessed.”
Knowles-Taylor had another hurdle to overcome in September last year when she underwent shoulder surgery.
“It was six weeks in a sling and then another four weeks of resting but I’ve been doing strength training with a biokineticist twice a week since December,” she said. “I only started with light sessions on my horses in mid-January and my first show back was mid-February. It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster getting back into it; having had three hectic falls in six months; but I do feel that I have my mojo back!”
Soweto-born Musa Maluleke is excited to be participating in this year’s contest stating: “It’s a big step for me, competing in such a big event and it’s one step forward in my showjumping career.”
After being introduced to the sport by renowned South African showjumper, Enos Mafokate, Maluleke started riding, initially for fun, keeping himself busy after school.
“Where other kids were into soccer mostly, I decided to take a different route and tried horse riding not realising there were different disciplines,” he recalled. “I was enjoying it and getting to know the sport better when I decided to go for showjumping. Mr Mafokate introduced me to the sport and took me to see big shows. I was inspired when I was given the chance to walk in a parade with some of the country’s best showjumpers, including Nicola Sime, who is now my coach. She has been such an inspiration, getting the best from me and I’m so grateful to her and Sunny Park Stables.”
The 23-year-old rider will be competing in the 1.00 – 1.10m classes at the Nissan Winter Classic, following dedicated training in preparation.
He already has an impressive showjumping record, placing in the top three of most competitive 90cm classes in 2015. He achieved second place in the championship class for the bronze 1.00 – 1.10m FEI Gold Tour in 2016; winning the 1.00m championship at the Dunblane Pre-Derby Show that same year. He was also selected to be part of the Gauteng team heading to the SA Champs in Shongweni with the team placing third and Maluleke achieving fourth place.
He has already competed in a number of events this year, showing particular promise in the 1.10m events. At the Easter Festival held at Kyalami Equestrian Park, he placed second in the 1.00m two phase, 1.10m A2 competition and third in the 1.10m championship.
Commenting on his ambitions in the sport, Maluleke said: “As everyone else in the world of showjumping, I want to represent my country in the World Games, competing in the big classes against the best in the ring.”
Also competing this year will be last year’s winner of the main class, the Nissan 1.5m FEI World Cup Qualifier, Cinzia Pasteris, as well as previous winners, Jonathan Clark and Nicole Horwood.
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; Prussian army display; dog agility show; a variety of market stalls as well as gymnastic and trapeze displays.
For more information about the Nissan Winter Classic, check Nissan Winter Classic 2017 and SA Showjumping on Facebook, visit www.foresyte.co.za, or contact Grant Langley on 082 859 2160. The Nissan Winter Classic 2017 is sponsored by Nissan, Epol, Liberty, Equipage, CWD, Western Shoppe.