Near perfect riding weather coupled with a fantastic track was the highlight for riders at the South Island Endurance and CTR Championships, over the second weekend of March 8-9.
Otago rider Suzie Latta took out the CEI 3* 160km championship riding Tkiwa, a 10-year-old arabian-standardbred cross mare whom she bred herself. Their time was 9:53.16, and in second was Sarah Hamer on Glendaar Amira Fire on 10:08.34, with Alison Higgins and Twynham El Desiree in third on just over 10:30.
Brooksdale Station, near Springfield in Canterbury, hosted the event, with the track also going over eight other properties.
The flowing track was marked by course designer Raewyn Baxter, and the event’s organisers, led by president Barbara Avery, were grateful to the farm owners who had opened gates and moved stock to accommodate the riders.
Most of the riders came over the lines with a smile on their face and with great comments about the track, making the officials on the ground envious.
The terrain ranged from flat to rolling country with river crossings. The track also took riders over quiet country roads with grass verges. Some of the loops covered short areas of common ground, but as one rider reported, it certainly wasn’t repetitive. “You’d be going along for a bit and then after a few minutes realise that you’d gone that way before, but it wasn’t really that noticeable.”
The start/finish line was at the end of a long straight, giving great photo opportunities for the several amateur and professional photographers at the event to get some fabulous action shots.
Spectators were treated to a thundering gallop finish for second and third placings in the CEI 1* 100km, with stablemates Nha’dia NZL (Vanessa Bragan) and Northwinds Marat (Hamish Malcom) fighting it out. Nha’dia won by about a neck, and the pair looked full of running and took some pulling up. Both pulled up fine after their exertion. The class was won by Diamond Park Levi, ridden by Chris Enstrom, who also took out the 88km CEI1* ride on Jasark’s Desire the following day.