New Zealand may have drawn first blood in the opening rounds of the Trans-Tasman Young Rider Teams’ Challenge at the Larsen Sawmilling Equestrian Championships in Gisborne but if today is anything to go by, it’s going to be a nail-biter to the end.

Over the two rounds this afternoon, New Zealand’s Emma Gillies (Oamaru) and Johanna Wylaars (Christchurch) both went double clear, while Cody Ticknall and Elissa Stephens both finished with clean slates.

The Kiwis won the first rounds, finishing on zero faults and picked up a bonus point for three clears – Emma, Johanna and Liam Rutland (Te Awamutu) – while the Australians finished on four. In the second the teams were all tied up on eight faults from the best three combinations so had to head to a jump-off.

Emma shone in her New Zealand team debut, coming home clear to take the win ahead of Cody who had a rail at the third. At the end of the day, New Zealand is on six points and Australia three.

Both chefs d’equipe were rapt with their riders. New Zealand chef Oliver Edgecombe said it would be a close competition over the next two days. He felt Emma was the obvious choice to jump-off and he was very pleased with her cool head under pressure.

He thanked those who had kindly loaned horses for the competition, adding it was a good even pool to draw from.

Aussie chef Phil Stephens offered congratulations to the hosts for the strong start but he is looking forward to swapping horses for day two. He too felt it would be a close competition that could easily come down to the final day.

He was very proud of his team who were all excited to be riding for their country and enjoying all they could about the exchange.


Results –

New Zealand: Emma Gillies (Oamaru) Centanna (owned by Pip Wylaars) 0, 0, 0; Johanna Wylaars (Christchurch) Colemans Daughter (owned by Rhiannon Smith) 0, 0; Dylan Bibby (Onga Onga) Central Zone (owned by Oliver Edgecombe) 4, 8; Liam Rutland (Te Awamutu) Centare Max (owned by Vinia Mason) 0, 8; 6 points, 1.

Australia: Cody Tincknell, Tiramea Logan (owned by Jeff Chapman) 0, 0, 4; Hayden Parker, SP Magic Symbol (owned by Andrew Ormond) 21, 20; Elissa Stephens, Centra (owned by Sofie Gaddum) 0, 0; Jack Barker, Pure Suggestion (owned by Laura McGregor) 0, 8. 3 points 2.

Diana Dobson

26 January 2024