Eventing New Zealand has confirmed a five-strong young rider squad to tackle arch rivals Australia in the trans-Tasman Young Rider Challenge as part of the South Island FEI Three Day Event next week.
Australian-based Joseph Waldron and Springvale All Black spearhead the squad, coming from an impressive performance as part of the senior trans-Tasman team at Kihikihi International Horse Trial last weekend where they finished second behind Australian Olympian Shane Rose and Taurus in the CIC3*.
Disappointingly, the senior Kiwi team couldn’t hold off the Aussie onslaught and lost the trans-Tasman title, so Waldron will be looking to go one better in Christchurch.
Waldron is joined by Auckland’s Virginia Thompson on Ashbury Pee Cee and current Young Rider One Day Champions Samantha Felton (Matangi) on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, both who finished in the top four in the CIC2* at Kihikihi. Also making the squad is the ultra-consistent Jessica Woods on Too Predictable, and local rider Katie Rankin (Ohoka) on Time To Tango Too. With the exception of Waldron, who grew up in Mosgiel but now lives in Australia, the other four members hold four of the top five places on the Massey University Young Rider leaderboard.
The final team to compete will be announced after the official trot-up next Thursday before competition starts on the Friday.
“We are really looking forward to this competition,” says New Zealand chef d’quipe Jean Johnstone. “It’s a really exciting team. They are all consistent and capable riders with strong form on the board. Bring it on!”
The Kiwis will come up against a strong Australian line-up which consists of Ben Leahy and Le Directeur, Isabel English and Fairdale Mouse, Juana Andreou and Sunvally Donnerthe, and Makayla Wood on Just Corona.
The trans-Tasman Challenge is being held in conjunction with the CCI2* competition of the NZCT South Island Three Day Event held at the National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island, near Christchurch. It has a long proud history; it’s been held biennially since 1996. The competition pits the best New Zealand’s Olympians of the future against the top young riders in Australia in a CCI2* competition. After winning the first three (1996, 1998 and 2000) the Kiwis then lost the next three (2002, 2004 and 2006). The Aussies will be looking for revenge after losing here in Christchurch in 2010, and on home soil at Camperdown in 2009.
The event is undoubtedly the South Island’s most prestigious eventing contest, acting as a vital qualifier for the NZ National Three Day Event at Taupo in May.
As well as the CCI2* competition (incorporating the trans-Tasman), which is sponsored by Tavern Harewood, the event will also run the NZCT CIC3*, Sheds NZ CCI1*, Armitage Williams Construction Pre Novice, AW Interiors Training, Tavern Harewood Training 4-6 Year Olds, Betavet and the Pre Training jointly sponsored by Betavet and Blue Gum Lodge Motels, as well as the prestigious Saddlery Barn South Island Young Event Horse Championship.
Competitors in the CCI2* will also be vying for the Swarbrick Trophy for the National Young Rider Three Day Event champion, while those in the CCI1* will be fighting it out for the Lenamore Trophy for National Junior Rider Three Day Event champion.
Entries across all levels are strong with more than 190 combinations taking part including a number of North Island combinations.
Competition gets under way on Thursday, April 20 with the Saddlery Barn Young Event Horse Championship and the official trot-up with the dressage phase starting on Friday, April 21.