For many years South Island riders had to travel to the North Island to contest national titles such as these. Instead this year there are North Islanders who have made the trek down to compete including Beth Wilson, from Auckland. Riding Alto Et Audax, Beth has very good form from last year, including being runner up in last year’s National Young Rider title when it was held at Puhinui, Auckland.
There are two Canterbury riders however who are determined to make the most of their opportunity in the Young Rider (21 and under) class which is part of the Ultimate Design and Renovation CCI2* Championship class. Lucy Turner won the young rider title two years ago on her horse Carbon and is looking forward to being part of a tight competition this year. “I will definitely have an advantage as it is being held on my home ground, so my horses will know where they are, but you just never know what happens in this sport!”
The other Canterbury rider competing is Templeton’s Molli Thacker and her horse Happy Go Lucky. The pair had a great season last year including during a trip to the North Island where they were in the winning Canterbury team at the New Zealand Pony Club Association’s Eventing Championships, and placing 17th in a very competitive CCI1* class at the Taupo Three Day Event in May.
In the National Junior Rider title, which is part of the Bates Saddles CCI1* class, the North Island is represented by Jasmyne Speake from Cambridge riding DSE Beyond Compare. Jasmyne has come down with her coach and employer, Donna Edward-Smith who has bought a big team down including her own DSE Cluny who is entered in the top class, the Eventing Canterbury’s CCI3* Championship.
There are five South Island riders who hope to be the National Junior champions by Sunday night. One of these is Oamaru’s Paige Hardwick and her 18-year-old ever-reliable Ivanoff. “It is my first shot at a National title,” Paige says. “I have wanted to go to compete for the National titles at Taupo but haven’t had the chance yet.” Paige was one of the many competing at the Springston Trophy last weekend, where her North Otago team finished third in the prestigious pony club event. There is a prize for the best combined scores from the Springston Trophy and this weekend’s three day event, as well as a prize for the best placed New Zealand Pony Club member.
In the main class, the CCI3*, there are four very strong competitors for the first prize of $3,500 (one of the richest prizes on the New Zealand eventing scene). As well as Te Kauwhata’s Donna Edwards-Smith, there are three Canterbury riders; Brent Jury (SE Hedging), Emily Cammock (Shaw Lee) and Kirsty Sharapoff (Shoot the Breeze). Emily and Kirsty are not only competing, but they are also two of the organisers of the event and have left no stone unturned to make this a memorable weekend for anyone remotely interested in horses. As well as having many trade and food stands at the event, there will also be pony rides and bouncy castles for the children. Eventing classes go right down to the Lime Solutions’ CNC65cm Championship.
The event kicks off with the charity Auction for Action dinner raising funds for Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust on Thursday night. The competition involving horses starts with the dressage phase on Friday. Cross country is held on Saturday starting at 8.30am, and will last most of the day. The final phase, show jumping, will be held on Sunday.
The venue is the National Equestrian Centre, 820 McLeans Island Road, Christchurch. Entry is free.
For those wanting to follow the event from afar, there is live-streaming available on this link: https://livestream.com/accounts/20514474/events/8405466
Live scoring can be followed on www.equestrianentries.co.nz