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.

Soweto-born Musa Maluleke on Contessa in the 90cm classes at SA Adult Champs last year in Shongweni. Maluleke is excited to be participating in this year’s Nissan Winter Classic taking place from the 14 to 18 June at the Durban Shongweni Club. Photo: Tamara and Blake Images

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 six bar record in 2014 with a height of two metres. The pair went on to break their own record the following year with a height of 2.05m.

Although she will not compete in the six 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.

Soweto-born Musa Maluleke is excited to be participating in this year’s contest. “It’s a big step for me, competing in such a big event and it is one step forward in my showjumping career.”

After being introduced to the sport by renowned South African showjumper, Enos Mafokate, Maluleke began 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 said. “I was enjoying it and getting to know the sport better when I decided to go for show jumping. 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 already has an impressive show jumping record, placing in the top three of most competitive 90cm classes in 2015. He achieved second place in the championship class for the bronze FEI Gold Tour in 2016; winning the 1m 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.