Top quality field to contest inaugural Shongweni Festival 2017

Deirdre Fox, Pieter Pretorius (Landrover), Grant Visser (FNB), Andrew Hudson (FNB) and Eric Gaza riding Monica. (Photo Credit: Geoff Brink)

The inaugural Shongweni Festival, gracing the showgrounds of the Shongweni Club between 8-13 August, will feature South Africa’s foremost equestrian athletes, many of whom will be battling it out in the elite 1.50m Land Rover Durban FEI World Cup Qualifier and the 1.40m FNB KZN Outdoor Grand Prix classes. As well as the world-class showjumping, the Land Rover Durban and FNB sponsored event also features many other highly anticipated categories and activities.

Leading the charge in the 1.50m Land Rover Durban FEI World Cup Qualifier and looking to consolidate her lead atop the South African FEI Jumping standings is Kyalami-based Lisa Williams. As a FEI SA World Cup Series League winner in 2015, Williams is no stranger to success at the highest level, and her meticulous preparation and planning will give her the best chance of going all the way again in 2017. Growing up near Stellenbosch in a family heavily involved in a range of competitive equestrian sports, Williams first started riding at the tender age of six. Her skills and understanding of the sport was honed under the expert tutelage of Jonathan Clarke, her coach for fifteen years, and for the last eleven years with South African equestrian legend Dominey Alexander. “I respect and admire both Jonathan and Dominey for their coaching ability, riding and arena skills and competitiveness as well as their horsemanship” said Williams.

Speaking on what it takes to get the most out of a horse, Williams said that “each horse is an individual with a unique temperament. You need to understand each horse’s needs, fears, quirks and insecurities to encourage it to trust you and allow you to get the best from that horse – it is important to make a friend of your horse! The training process of horses is not a short-term process”.

Williams will be riding Discovery Campbell in the 1.50m class at the upcoming Durban Shongweni Festival, a venue she speaks very highly of. “The Durban Shongweni Club provides excellent facilities including the arena itself and the arena setting, which encourages crowd participation with the banks and clubhouse looking down on the arena.  The warmup facilities are good and the stabling facilities are excellent. It is definitely one of South Africa’s premier equestrian facilities”.

Another rider who will look to continue the development of his showjumping career is Laurence Mowatt (Bealieu, Kyalami), who is making his presence felt in the senior showjumping scene after years of impressive performances in the junior ranks. Mowatt’s recent 1.30m championship-winning performance at the Oyten Show in Germany has gone a long way in signalling his arrival on showjumping’s biggest stage. His first experience with horses was during a childhood holiday to Scotland where he was treated to a riding lesson at the famous Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. When his parents realised he wanted to persist with his riding, they bought him his first pony, Blackie, with whom he started competing at the SANESA shows where they enjoyed much success in the dressage and showing classes. Mowatt’s success continued into his junior career, with many memorable wins, several of them being in KwaZulu Natal. The first big win of his career was at the Royal Show grounds in Pietermaritzburg where he claimed the 2010 Pony Rider Outdoor Grand Prix with Jaclag Bannut Mandarin.


Mowatt, currently a student at the University of Pretoria, speaks highly of South Africa’s showjumping talent, saying “we produce stylish and effective riders that are more than capable of holding their own in the show ring abroad. With the right horse power and international experience, South African riders could be a force to be reckoned with”, something he has backed up with his own performances. Speaking about the local leg of the FEI World Cup Qualifiers, Mowatt says that “as a student I am restricted with the amount of shows I am able to attend, however the World Cup Qualifier shows are always top priority when planning my calendar. The privilege of jumping courses built by some of the best course designers in the world is, in my opinion, an opportunity not to be missed. These events are the showpiece of South African showjumping and we as riders are all most appreciative of the generous sponsorship they attract”. Mowatt’s international success is not limited to showjumping, having competed internationally and having claimed many national victories in both Ballroom and Latin American dancing.


There will also be a host of young riders competing at the Durban Shongweni Festival, many of whom will be contesting the 1.00 Pony Rider class. One such rider is 8-year-old Cody Sander (Midrand, Gauteng), no doubt looking to emulate his mother Bronwyn Meredith Short who is taking part in the 1.50m World Cup Qualifier event. Cody will be riding his own pony Chardonnay Magic, a seven-year-old Palomino. According to his mother, Cody’s “favourite shows are the ones held at the Durban Shongweni Club as he loves to ride and be able to spend all day playing with his friends and then be able to join in the soccer in the evening!”


KwaZulu Natal will be well represented at the upcoming Durban Shongweni Festival, with a host of riders competing, including Ronnie Lawrence (Hillcrest), Martin Minette (Pietermaritzburg), Alwin Van Breda (Umhlanga), Helen Bean (Umhloti), Carol Nurden (Howick). Other notable competitors include Nicole Horwood (Kyalami), Graham Winn (Springs), Cayleigh Triggol (Kyalami), Samantha McIntosh (Pretoria), Oscar Ncube (Kyalami), Charley Chrockart, Zimbabwe, Daniëlle Lemmer (Kyalami) and Barry Taylor (Chartwell).


The event has a strong charity element, and the charities who are set to benefit from the event include SARDA (South African Riding for the Disabled Association), Mthatha Horse and Animal Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre, and the Hilltop Honorary Officers – Rhino Watch. Incorporating Women’s Day (9 August), the Shongweni Festival will hold the exciting and crowd-pleasing Ride, Kick and Drive competition after all the main classes of the day. Here, ten invitational teams consisting of a driver, rider and groom will compete for R20,000 prize money, donated by the RIDER SERIES, in what is sure to be exciting viewing for spectators. Teams will be driving the All New Discovery, jumping a course of eight 1.00m jumps, and the grooms testing their kicking accuracy with a soccer ball, all of which will take place under floodlights at approximately 18h00.


There will be plenty of activities for the whole family at the event, including clothing, food and beverage stalls, a licensed restaurant, kiddies play area and the opportunity to test drive the complete Land Rover & Jaguar model lineup, including the All New Discovery!


For more information about the Shongweni Festival visit ‘The Shongweni Festival’ on Facebook, the Shongweni Club website, Land Rover Durban or contact Jodi Wolhuter on 0836554465. The Shongweni Festival is sponsored by Land Rover Durban, FNB, The Mobility Group and Artav.

The Shongweni Festival is organized by Jodi Wolhuter and Lorraine Peters of Highway Shows, a local equestrian events company. Their vision is to promote equestrian sports and all that it encompasses, from the horses that delight with their strength, agility and beauty, the grooms that lovingly take care of them, and the riders and coaches who produce and ride their horses from beginner to international levels. Through events such as the Shongweni Festival, Highway Shows hopes to support the many industries that are part of this wonderful and exciting sport, bringing people together to enjoy a special family day outing with so much to see and do, ultimately making its mark as a not-to-be-missed event on the South African equestrian calendar.

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Olivia Jones
Olivia Jones Communications is a leading Durban-based Public Relations Agency specialising in reputation management, sports events, brand activation campaigns and corporate social investment projects. OJC has over 15 years of diverse experience and expertise in managing PR for campaigns, events, teams, corporate sponsors, environmental issues and launches.