Matriarchs of South African showjumping arena talk top riders at Nissan Winter Classic

Matriarchs of South African showjumping arena talk top riders at Nissan Winter Classic:

When it comes to showjumping the past few decades, the names Gonda Betrix (Hout Bay, Cape Town) and Clodagh Shaw (Shongweni) have featured prominently. Both women have achieved huge success on the circuit respectively – Betrix as a showjumper and Shaw as a race horse trainer – and are looking forward to witnessing some of the country’s most dynamic showjumping talent take to the course at this year’s Nissan Winter Classic, taking place at the Shongweni Club from 13 to 17 June.

Gonda Betrix

During her 40-year-career, Gonda Betrix earned her junior and senior Springbok colours and still holds the record for winning the South African National Showjumping Championship an incredible 10 times, as well as the SA Showjumping Derby six times. Her illustrious career saw her earn three sports’ merit awards as well as the State Presidential Award in 1994 – the same year she won the Swiss Ladies International Championship in Geneva.

Following her retirement from competitive showjumping in 1995, Gonda Betrix went on to coach some of the country’s top riders. Commenting on the upcoming Nissan Winter Classic, Betrix said there were a number of top riders to watch out for in this year’s FEI Word Cup Qualifier Class among Betrix’s riders would be Nicola Sime-Riley (Benoni), Nicole Horwood (Kyalami) – four-time winner of the SA Showjumping Derby – and Samantha McItosh (Centurion).

Commenting on the sport, Betrix said that showjumping has changed over the years with World Class Qualifiers making the contests a lot more technical. “We used to ride on thoroughbred horses but now showjumpers compete on warm bloods – horses that are bred specifically for showjumping. And there are some really good breeding lines, like Callaho and Capital Studs, among others.”

She said the annual Nissan Winter Classic is a big calendar favourite among riders: “The Nissan Winter Classic has very good spectator support which is great for the riders. The past few years Nissan has really been instrumental in sponsoring a number of showjumping competitions.”

Clodagh Shaw

A good friend of Betrix as well as a renowned horse trainer and former showjumper, Clodagh Shaw, is also looking forward to this year’s Nissan Winter Classic. From her showjumping career, Shaw moved on to horse training in her 30s, during which time she earned herself the ‘Champion Natal Trainer’ for training some of the big event winners – Devastation and Boreas – among them.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Shaw said Barry Taylor (Gauteng), Nicole Sime-Riley, Nicola Horwood and Chris van der Merwe (Limpopo) were definitely some of the top contenders to keep an eye on.

“It’s a very exciting contest and really comes down to the horse and rider on the day,” said Shaw. “Showjumping has progressed so much over the years and the competition now is extremely tight! The Nissan Winter Classic is really a wonderful show and I look forward to attending every year.”

Although not active on the competitive circles, visitors to the show can look out for Shaw who will be participating in the 1.10m and 1.20m classes, riding Cool Green Bean.

The 2019 Winter Nissan Classic

The five-day competition consists of 39 showjumping events including the 1.15 Filtec Pony Riders Championship and 1.50m Nissan Riders Grand Prix Tour; the Nissan 6-bar event; the 1.40m Nissan Championships and the main title class – the 1.5m Nissan FEI World Cup Qualifier.

Alongside the showjumping entertainment, visitors to the Nissan Winter Classic can look forward to family fun in the form of a dedicated Nissan children’s zone, the popular Nissan vehicle display and test drive, and a range of quality market stalls which will include food and beverage options.

For more information about the Nissan Winter Classic, check The Winter Classic 2019 and SA Showjumping on Facebook, visit www.foresyte.co.za, or contact Grant Langley on 082 859 2160.

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