No-one ever doubted the grandeur or the grit of the Kepler Challenge, but it also now appears to be developing into a serious international mountain race.
At Saturday's 26th edition, three Australians finished in the top five of the men's race, with Canberra runner Martin Dent breaking the course record set by Phil Costley in 2005, by more than four minutes.
Dent collected $7500 in prizemoney on Saturday, courtesy of the $2000 win, a $5000 bonus for breaking the record and another $500 for being the King of the Mountain, or first to the Luxmore Hut.
Napier athlete Ruby Muir defended her title in the women's race, winning by more than 18 minutes.
After claiming her first win in 2012 soon after knee surgery, Muir's 2013 winter programme has been blighted by a stress fracture in her tibia, which meant most of her training was done on a bike.
Hawke's Bay took the title, while Wellington learned a valuable lesson about playing to the final whistle during the Central Regions sevens tournament in Palmerston North.
Wellington lost three successive matches on the final play to finish fourth leaving coach Scott Waldrom a tad frustrated by the recurring theme. Wellington appeared to be through to the final after replacement Matt Peni scored near fulltime against Hawke's Bay in the semifinal.
Playmaker Inoke Rasabale cleverly put the kick off out on the bounce thinking the match was over, only for the Magpies to take the throw in and conjure a try to Neria Foma to tie the scores at 24-24. Ihaia West then wobbled the conversion over for 26-24 win and a place in the final where his side beat Taranaki 24-19.
Impressive entries for the equestrian, livestock and agricultural classes for the Royal A and P Show New Zealand at Manfeild Park in Feilding at the weekend have shown that this is an event that has started well in the region and will further strengthen.
While the venue did not escape the squally weather that swept the lower North Island on Saturday and yesterday, the chairman of the organizing consortium, Murray Meads, said he was incredibly heartened to see thousands of visitors on all three days.
"All in all it has been a wonderful celebration of rural life - perhaps the gate will be a little disappointing - but it has still been a fantastic event and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
"It is true that the weather was not perfect for us but it could have been a lot worse and we have seen a lot of smiles.
"This was our first run at a Royal Show and it was also at a new venue. We have learned so much. We can improve but we believe we can also hold our heads high. My thanks go out to all those who made this happen, not least the hundreds of volunteers who have just been brilliant."
The most prestigious A and P show on the calendar returned to the region for the first time since 2002 and will repeat at Manawatu's fast-growing and nationally-renowned multi-events venue in 2014.
Royal Agricultural Society president John Grigg, of North Canterbury, said Manfeild Park has proven a superb venue and he congratulated the organizing consortium - Manfeild Park Trust, Performance Beef Breeders, Manawatu Agricultural and Pastoral Association and Feilding Industrial Agricultural and Pastoral Association - for a well-run event in sometimes trying conditions.
"I think there have been some very good animals shown … some amazing animals. It’s unfortunate the weather did not play its part but it is a lovely venue, it has beautiful facilities and lovely grounds and it has a good chance of going from strength to strength."
The Royal as it is colloquially known, has the traditional role of being ‘the show’ for the country’s top breeders of all manner of livestock, all vying for a vaunted best-of-breed acknowledgement, and Mr Meads said he was especially heartened that all major categories were well-subscribed. The 1000-plus entry for the equine categories was exceptional and beyond his expectation.
"It just reminds us of the powerful allure of those prestigious Royal Agricultural Society ribbons. We have had people here from all over the country to compete for the highest awards in agriculture."
First of the big prizes, the Meat and Wool Cup, went on Friday to Tony Thompson, a Hawke’s Bay Simmental cattle breeder, for his prize stud bull, 1500kg Glenanthony Yale.
The over all supreme animal of the show award, presented by the Royal Agricultural Society, went to Tom and Fiona Burrows, of North Canterbury, for their Perendale ram hogget. The top equestrian award, the Pam Linton Memorial for the champion of champion, went to Brenna Tait, 12, of Napier, who has been riding since the age of two.
While the weather sadly diminished public interest in the Saturday concert, featuring boy band Titanium and vaunted country duo the Topp Twins, it did not impact on the turnout of more 2000 pre- and primary schoolchildren at the Farmlands Farmworld and schools’ activity programme. Mr Meads cited this as being "one of the jewels in the crown. Fully involving the young children of the region in the show was something we wanted to do and we were delighted with the turnout and their obvious enthusiasm."
The show encompassed the entire 87 hectare Manfeild Park groundscape along with some neighbouring Manawatu District Council land and was more than a year in the making.
It promised and delivered "all the fun at the fair" from morning to night with a Grand Parade, numerous competitions, a carnival, on-stage performances by top musical acts and the return of the Manawatu Fireworks Spectacular as the finale last night.
Manfeild Park chief executive Heather Verry said she was delighted the venue had performed to expectation.
"There was incredibly favourable comment about the venue. Everything stood up and there have been no infrastructure issues."
A first half brace from All White Aaron Clapham - that included a sensational solo effort - has lifted Canterbury United to third place in the ASB Premiership on a weekend when WaiBOP United also made a move upwards and nine man Waitakere United missed the chance to go top.
With Auckland City in Morocco preparing for Thursday morning’s FIFA Club World Cup opener against Raja Casablanca Waitakere knew three points would return them to the summit.
Leading 2-1 in front with less than ten minutes to go at home to Hawke’s Bay United, Waitakere lost two men to red cards conceded a 90th minute equaliser to sit behind league leaders Auckland City on goal difference.
The point was enough for Hawke's Bay to stay in the top four but on a congested table where just four points separate the top six, fifth placed WaiBOP are knocking loudly on the door thanks to their 4-2 win over winless Southern United in Cambridge.
It took less than a minute for Canterbury’s highly anticipated match against Wellington to take a turn towards the home side.
James Musa brought down Russell Kamo to concede a penalty which Dragons midfielder Clapham gladly converted, albeit off the post.
There was no doubt about his second. Clapham brought the crowd to its feet as he collected the ball on halfway and beat four players before slotting past fellow All White Jacob Spoonley as the game’s scoring wrapped up in just the 27th minute.
Hawke’s Bay, who had been knocked back into fourth by Canterbury’s win, got the start they needed chasing a win that would’ve pushed them up into second place when fullback Danny Wilson gave them a ninth minute lead against the champions in Whenuapai.
But Waitakere were back in front by halftime with a pair of slick goals - the first from Australian Richie Cardozo ten minutes after that early setback and the second from young target man Dylan Stansfield seven minutes before the break.
Stansfield’s goal looked increasingly like the match winner until Chad Coombes picked up a pair of yellow cards within two minutes. Goalscorer Cardozo received his marching orders for an elbow on David Mulligan in the 87th minute - just three minutes after Coombes’ departure - to give Hawke’s Bay the invitation they needed. Tom Biss eventually provided the equalisier as regulation time ran down.
Earlier in the weekend WaiBOP Unted got a brief taste of the dizzy heights of third place with Saturday’s victory over Southern United - although’s Sunday’s results would push Peter Smith’s men down a place.
Milos Nikolic netted twice - the first from the penalty spot - to bookend WaiBOP’s scoring action and give him a joint lead of the golden boot race with Cardozo.
Teenagers provided the two goals in between for the home side as Shaydon Young netted on halftime then 17-year-old Reid Drake marked his ASB Premiership debut with a stunning 61st minute strike to extend the score to 3-0.
Brazilan Henrique raised brief hopes of a Southern comeback when he converted the rebound from his penalty saved by Andy McNeil with 18 minutes to go, but unlike last week WaiBOP’s lead was extended not surrendered and a 90th minute Matt Joy goal for Southern was no consolation for a losing streak that now extends to 11 games including the final six of last season.
Next Saturday, WaiBOP United’s top four ambitions get their toughest test yet away to Waitakere United on Saturday followed by Hawke’s Bay hosting Canterbury United in another clash with top four ramifications. The first match of the day sees Wanderers travel outside Auckland for the first time this season to take on Team Wellington.
An international television audience and approx. 9000 spectators enjoyed the first ever A League Football game at McLean Park over Labour Weekend.
The game was hosted by Team Hawke’s Bay Trust, the promoters of Come on the Bay and was financially backed by many leading businesses of the region. Without their support, this game would never have come to the region! Special thanks to IMS Payroll, Bayswater Hyundai, Mag Development, Sport Hawke’s Bay, Davmet, Sportsground.co.nz, Tumu ITM, Alexander Construction, Shed 2, Bluewater Hotel, Viceroy Hotel, Drift In Lunch Bar, E.I.T, and Onekawa Hotel. Also thanks to our associate sponsors; ZM/Classic Hits, Luscombe Legal, Hot Shot-sports.com, Napier City Council, HB Tourism, Football Central and Ticket Direct.
It was a trial (or test case) to see what is involved in bringing a professional sporting event to the Bay and how it would be supported by the local community. Initial thoughts and feedback have been that there is a thirst for high profile sports events such as A League football, NRL and perhaps AFL.
There have been many learning’s and there will need to be greater support from other local organisations and councils to work on other opportunities.
An economic study was undertaken and this will be part of a report that will go into detail about what is has been learnt from running an event of this nature, as well as how many people visited the Bay and how much they spent while they were here. It will also highlight how much an event like this costs to run and what are the major issues that need to be overcome for future successes.
Sport Hawke’s Bay provided all the event management support at no cost and this will need to be covered in the future.
The players and coaches of Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle enjoyed their stay and playing on a hard and fast pitch, under the sun!
Phoenix management was pleased with the local event support, the underwriting by local businesses, but suggest that there’s work to do if they are to return. This will be covered off in more detail in the report to stakeholders.
McLean Park is a fantastic sporting venue but it is underutilised. It is the home of the Magpies and CD cricket and hosts 1-2 international one dayers over summer.
More events need to be attracted to the venue, which will in turn provide confidence for the Napier City Council to continue to invest in its upkeep and on-ground facilities.
There is stronger interest in events by the council so what level of support should an event like this receive from council event funds?
While some will continue to lament the fact tours no longer take in the provinces, there were plenty of smiles in Napier yesterday. Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Mike Bishop said the All Blacks test against Argentina next September would be "huge for the region".
Napier has hosted only one All Blacks test, against Samoa in 1996, a match notable for being fullback Christian Cullen's international debut. Capacity has always been the stumbling block for McLean Park, but by covering its famous embankment with temporary seating, the union has found a way to satisfy the NZRU's criteria.
"We'll get up to 22,000 which will look pretty spectacular on the night. It'll be a hell of an occasion," Bishop said. "I have to applaud the NZRU because in the past we've had the attitude, probably wrongly, that it was beyond us. They encouraged us to have a crack, there were no guarantees, we had to measure up and we did."
- The excitement is building for Napier's reigning GT Series champion.
- Hawkes Bay's Kevin Tamati say's no to an Australian coach for the Kiwi's
- Napier's Andy Bevin is making headways in the US
- Napier hosts a gripping finale to the ASB National Futsal League.
- Napier is ecstatic to host Argentina for a 2014 test rugby match.
- Napier get's a visit from the Central Pulse's newest recruit
- Unison is announced as the naming sponsor for Hawkes Bays newest hockey turf
- Join Hawkes Bays Learn to Surf and support Disabled Surfers NZ
- Hawkes Bay United go down to Team Wellington
- Novice Hawkes Bay golfer foots it with the best.
- Don't miss out on the Hawkes Bay 2013 Staples Rodway Cape Kidnappers Challenge
- Napier could get a 2014 international rugby match.
- Havelock Norths Oliver Ayre battles it out at the NZ Supercross Champs
- Hawkes Bay United bring down WaiBop in Cambridge
- Hawkes Bay's Gillies Kaka heads to South Africa.
- Central Hawkes Bay foots it with the best in the Futsal National League
- Hawkes Bay catcher get's added to the New Zealand White Sox's
- Roll up for Dire Skates at Napier's Pettigrew Arena
- Napier based cricketer stood down again after a boozy night out.
- George Brannigan of Hastings will join the world's best in Dunedin.