Emma Gillies on Chic Xtreme     Photo credit: KAMPIC / Kerry Marshall

 Liam Rutland on Kiwi Delux     Photo kindly supplied

Johanna Wylaars on Cassera MS     Photo credit: Michelle Clarke

Dylan Bibby on Chasseur Ask Z      Photo credit: Libby Law Photography

Molly Moffatt on Kingslea Couture     Photo credit: Michelle Clarke


It’s time for Australasia’s top young riders to shine with the Trans-Tasman Teams’ Challenge this weekend at the Larsen Sawmilling Equestrian Championships in Gisborne.

The Kiwis have named a very solid team in Emma Gillies (Oamaru), Johanna Wylaars (Christchurch), Dylan Bibby (Onga Onga) and Liam Rutland (Te Awamutu) with Molly Moffatt (Christchurch) the reserve. All are on the ESNZ high performance talent ID squad.

Chef d’equipe Oliver Edgecombe (Waipukurau) says each of the New Zealand riders have shown they can ride any type of horse, which stands the nation in good stead in the hotly contested event.

“These are all good riders who have shown they can compete under pressure,” says Oliver. “The Aussies will be strong too, so we are all looking forward to a good competition.”

Australia reigned supreme both times the two nations met last year in Gisborne and Sydney, the first time since 2017 they’ve claimed it, and they’ll be very keen to make sure they retain it.

The 1.2m competition is run over three days with two rounds a day with riders swapping between two pools of borrowed mounts.

It is the second call-up for the young rider team for Liam and Johanna while Dylan has previously been a reserve, and Emma is on debut.

Johanna (17) says the competition is a great way to experience a team environment. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of adjusting to the different horses in the competition,” she says. “It is a fun and different competition to ride in.”

Liam (16) is “stoked” to be named. “I am happy to see some of my hard work paying off,” he says. “I know the Aussies will be pretty good so am looking forward to it. I am used to riding all sorts of different horses, so that will be helpful.”

Dylan (19), who represented New Zealand at the 2022 Youth Equestrian Games at CHIO Aachen in Germany, is chuffed to be on the team. “There are a lot of good riders around at the moment, so I am pretty happy to be named,” he says. “It’s going to be great to be jumping in that team environment again. I learnt a lot when I went to Aachen.”

Emma (17) says she was “ecstatic” to get the call-up. “I have been trying hard to get my achievements up there so this is exciting. I am looking forward to everything and am just so grateful to be part of the team.”

The Aussies have named Jack Barker (16), Hayden Parker (18), Elissa Stevens (16) and Cody Ticknall (18). Olivia Price is the reserve.

Hayden has been on both recent winning Australian young rider teams, was fifth overall in the senior championship at the Victorian State Showjumping Championships last year.

Elissa won the 2023 Magic Millions juniors and won the junior showjumping at the Royal Adelaide Show two years ago.

Jack was the overall junior champ at the 2023 Australian Showjumping Championships and won the New South Wales State Showjumping Young Rider Championships alongside the Stal Tops Australian Young Rider Series in 2023.

Cody was runner up to Jack in the series and took out the junior championship at the Caboolture World Cup Show.

The Trans-Tasman young rider competition is part of the Larsen Sawmilling Champs. President of the ground jury Kaye Williams says the grounds are looking magnificent.

Donella Still will be designing the courses in ring one, Edward Bullock in ring two and Sandy Richmond in the show hunter arena.


WHAT: Young Rider Trans-Tasman Teams’ Challenge

WHERE: Larsen Sawmilling 33rd Equestrian Championships at Showgrounds Park in Gisborne

WHEN: January 26-28 2024

RESULTS: www.main-events.com


Diana Dobson

24 January 2024