Equestrian: World-class Takapoto facility raises showjumping bar

Waikato philanthropist and Black Sticks sponsor Mitch Plaw has a new sport in his sights - he's now raising the bar for NZ showjumping.

Plaw and wife Kate have transformed their 243-hectare property at Takapoto Estate into a venue, where Olympic and World Cup riders, and prominent internationals have been competing

Set on the banks of pristine Lake Karapiro, this is New Zealand's newest world-class sporting facility, hosting more than 400 elite showjumpers 

"NZ has obviously got all the riders, the horses, the breeding, the capability, but the part we have been lacking is the facility," says Plaw. "That's the part that I felt I could help with."

Plaw made his money in aluminium windows and doors - he's poured millions into NZ cycling, motorsport, hockey and community groups.

But his latest project, using a surface never before seen here, is getting rave reviews from NZ Olympic riders competing at Takapoto's first major show.

Kate & Mitch Plaw
Philanthropists Kate & Mitch Plaw. Photo credit: Newshub.

"There's no doubt this venue is top quality," says Olympic eventer Clarke Johnstone. "It's as good as anywhere in the world."

Takapoto's APL sand arena has taken three trips to the United Kingdom to perfect. Sourcing and testing the right blend of kiwi sand and imported fibres has been a painstaking task.

A year on from her stunning FEI Nations Cup win in Abu Dhabi, France-based Kiwi Sam McIntosh says her mounts are benefiting.

"If it's dry or wet, the water pumps in and so you've always got a perfect footing," she says. "It's monumental.

"You can go full speed around the corners without worrying about slipping or sliding - it's fantastic."

Australian Olympian George Sanna has brought a team of three over the Tasman.

"Events like this are going to raise the standard in NZ without question," says Sanna. "We've been seeing that in Australia the past few years."

Says Kate Plaw: "A lot of them aspire to go to the Olympics, but you can't do that on bad surfaces, you have to go overseas.

"At least this gives them an edge."

And the Plaw family hope future generations will benefit.


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