There are times when finishing second brings with it as much value as a win.

That’s the sentiment from the New Zealand team and their chef d’equipe Oliver Edgecombe who competed in the Trans-Tasman Young Rider Challenge at the Waratah Showjumping World Cup Show in Sydney.

The Kiwis – captain Georgia Bouzaid, Liam Rutland, Samantha Gillies and Johanna Wylaars – fell just short of victory, but will come home with so much.

“It’s been a good competition, despite not winning,” said Oliver. “Our riders will certainly go on to compete in other New Zealand teams. I am proud of them all.”

The opening round saw the two teams level pegging in the first, with each getting a bonus point for three clear rounds. Liam Rutland bagged the only double clear for New Zealand, with Johanna Wylaars and Samantha Gillies going clear in the opener. The second round of the day saw team captain Georgia Bouzaid join the clear club. At night’s end, hosts Australia sat on seven with New Zealand on four.

Day two again saw bonus points for each team, with clears for New Zealand coming from Johanna, Samantha and Georgia but in the end, the day belonged to Australia who ended the day on 13 points to New Zealand’s eight.

There was certainly plenty to play for on the final day, especially with Oliver saying the team had all ridden so well and just been a bit unlucky.

The Kiwis gave it their best shot on the final day, but came up just short, with the Australians taking the test 18-11. Johanna was double clear on the final evening, with Georgia leaving everything up and inside time, but it wasn’t enough.

Georgia said it had been a privilege to be on the New Zealand team for the event. “It’s not every day that you get the opportunity as a young rider to ride a variety of different horses in the ring, so this borrowed horse event is an exceptionally valuable experience for us all,” she said.

And it was particularly special for Georgia who is now based in Australia. “It was wonderful to compete in a team with such a strong group of young New Zealand riders and although we finished second I felt everyone rode exceptionally and showed great sportsmanship. It was extra special for me getting to see so many familiar faces at the event and to see so much support extended to our team.”

She said the support and encouragement from Oliver throughout the three days had been “incredible”.

There was plenty of praise for the pool of borrowed horses. The annual clash has run for many years, with the hosting rights bouncing from one side of the Tasman to the other. It is one of the few chances young riders have to ride in a true team event, giving them valuable experience for the future.


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Diana Dobson

HP Media Liaison

20 August 2023