Two New Zealand eventing teams are heading to Australia this week looking to set the record straight in the Trans-Tasman clash which was last won by the Aussies.

It’s been three years since the event was held, with Australia taking both the young and the senior crowns at that meeting in Taupo, but this year will be at the Oceania Championships, being run in conjunction with the Zeep Melbourne International Three Day Event.

The senior team comprises Christen Lane (Hawke’s Bay) aboard her homebred Thunder Cat, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) on DSE Mendoza, Matthew Grayling (New Plymouth) with Trudeau and Monica Spencer (Taupo) aboard Artist.

Fifteen-year-old Holsteiner cross Thunder Cat is out of Christen Lane’s first hack, Allie Cat, who was also competed to 4* level. Together they placed third in both the 4*-S National One Day Championships in Whangarei this year and the Matamata 4*-S. Last year they won the CCN3*-S at Taupo. Christen has previously won the National One Day Championships advanced crown (2011), the CCI3*-L at Puhinui (2011) and the Bell Tea Super League Series (2011-2012).

Full time rider and bull farmer Donna Edwards-Smith was teaching a client aboard DSE Mendoza when the two parted company. Donna was told if she could catch it, she could have the horse. Mendoza was competed to 3* by Donna’s wife Elise. This year, Donna and the New Zealand thoroughbred have placed second in the 4*-S at Matamata, third in the 4*-S at Hunua and fifth in the 4*-S in Whangarei. Donna has previously won the 4*-S at Hunua and the 3* at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show.

Athens Olympian Matthew Grayling and 16-year-old New Zealand warmblood cross Trudeau have been in brilliant form this year, winning both the CCI4*-L at Taupo, and the New Zealand One Day Championships CIC4*-S in Whangarei. Last year they won the CCI4*-L at Taupo. The combination won back-to-back three day crowns in 2021-2022. Matthew has previously also won in Adelaide.

Monica Spencer and her off-the-track 11-year-old Artist, who has been with her since he was four, won the CCI4*-S at Matamata this year and were second in the CIC4*-S in Whangarei at the National One Day Championships. In 2020 they won the CCI4*-L at Puhinui.

Senior team chef d’equipe Blyth Tait says the four combinations are all “well performed with good track records”.

“They are certainly all very solid in the cross country,” he says. “With a bit of luck on our side and our preparation, we may have some success.” Blyth has twice competed at Werribee, both times on borrowed horses and made the podium on each occasion.

The young rider team comprises Charlotte Treneary (Kumeu) on CHS Royal Genie, Charlotte Penny (Taupo) with Festival, Mackenzie Marlo (Auckland) aboard CHS Diplomat and Brittany Fowler (Tamahere) on Game Keeper.

Young rider chef d’equipe Lizzie Green, who has also previously ridden at the event, said she had a super keen and very talented bunch of young women in her charge. “They are all working really hard to get there and pulling together as a group with their fundraising which is great to see,” she said. “That in itself has been a bit of a team-building exercise. They are all looking forward to getting over there and putting their best results forward.”

The last time the Kiwis travelled to Australia in 2017 for the Oceania clash, the senior team came home triumphant. But it was Aussie all the way when they came to Taupo in 2019 and the event was run under the new Olympic format. It’s back to ‘normal’ this year with teams of four and the best three scores to count. Australia will be fielding two senior teams this year, and in May 2023 when the event returns to Taupo, New Zealand will be able to do the same.

The competition started officially in 1985 and the senior clash has 11 times been won by the Kiwis, with Australia triumphing seven times. The young rider competition started in 1996 and is a much tighter affair with the tally seven to six to the Kiwis.

Horses and riders leave on Sunday (June 5) and will head straight to Werribee where they will be based for the week. Competition gets underway with the first horse inspection on Thursday (June 9) and runs through to Monday (June 13).

On hand to support the teams will be manager Eliza Johns, Alec Jorgensen and Georgina Johnston from Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre, and farrier Paul Nelson. The teams are supported by Troy Laboratories and their product Equestra, and Fiber Fresh – both of whom have sponsored the team uniforms.


The teams are –

Senior: Christen Lane (Hawke’s Bay) Thunder Cat, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) DSE Mendoza, Matthew Grayling (New Plymouth) Trudeau and Monica Spencer (Taupo) Artist. Chef d’equipe: Blyth Tait.


Young Rider: Charlotte Treneary (Kumeu) CHS Royal Genie, Charlotte Penny (Taupo) Festival, Mackenzie Marlo (Auckland) CHS Diplomat and Brittany Fowler (Tamahere) Game Keeper. Chef d’equipe: Lizzie Green.


The horse details –

Thunder Cat – owned by the Hayde Family and Christen Lane

DSE Mendoza – owned by Elise Edwards-Smith, David and Lesley Going and Kim Keown

Trudeau – owned by Winky Foley and Peter Smith

Artist – owned by Monica and Andrew Spencer

CHS Diplomat – owned by Angela Gichard

Festival – owned by Kellie and Charlotte Penny

CHS Royal Genie – owned by Charlotte & Krista Treneary

Game Keeper – owned by Ian Fowler, Cheryl Fowler Duff and Brittany Fowler


WHAT: Oceania Championships, at the Zeep Melbourne International Three Day Event

WHERE: Werribee, Victoria, Australia

WHEN: June 9-13, 2022