The Springston Trophy is one of the biggest pony club events in the Southern Hemisphere and it is on this weekend in Christchurch at the Canterbury Agricultural Park.
This year there are 40 teams (made up of 240 riders) from all over the South Island entered in the eventing competition, coming from all over the island, from Southland to Motueka and Waimea.
This is the 48th year the event has been held, and it is being hosted by the Halswell branch of Christchurch Pony Club.
There has been a year of hard work by the volunteer organising committee, chaired by Anna Jones. “Hosting this event is even more special for us, as 2019 sees us complete our new grounds after the A&P Showgrounds and Nga PunaWai Sports Hub redevelopment,” said Anna. “Hosting the prestigious Springston Trophy has been the catalyst for getting the final icing on our cake – a new cross-country course!”
Riders compete in the dressage test on Friday, and then on Saturday will have the challenge of tackling the brand new cross-country course designed by one of New Zealand’s top course designers, Nick Pyke. The boating-themed water jump is sure to be where the crowds gather to watch the action. The course is loosely themed around being in the A&P show grounds, so features the Dog Trial lawn with sheep pens and wood choppers.
Sunday sees the final jumping test and the presentation of the Springston trophy to the pony club team with the best score over all the three tests.
The competition is certainly very hot with defending champions, View Hill Pony Club having very strong teams entered again this year. They also won the event in 2016 and 2012. Hosts Halswell, runners up last year and winners the year before, are definitely keen to gain the upper hand again and have also fielded very strong teams.
Thanks to event sponsors, Mitavite, Olympian Clarke Johnstone will be there on Thursday to take the competitors on an informative cross-country course walk, giving them some tips on how to tackle the jumps. Clarke was the highest placed of the Kiwi eventing team at the Rio Olympics, finishing 6th. Clarke and his horse Balmoral Sensation are in the early stages of their preparation for Tokyo 2020 and, all things going well, will be heading to the UK early next year as part of their push to get in the team again. Clarke himself competed in the Springston Trophy as part of the Taieri team before basing himself in the Waikato and overseas.
The event has free entry all three days.