The weekend’s Fiber Fresh New Zealand Endurance Championships have been abandoned by organisers after the area – along with much of the country – sustained flooding and treacherous underfoot conditions courtesy of the remnants of Cyclone Ita.
The three-day event at Mayfield, inland from Ashburton, Canterbury, was to have kicked off at 1am, with senior riders heading off in the centrepiece event, the 160km ride. Organisers delayed the start to 4am in the hopes the weather would improve, but the decision was then made to call off all competition for the day, with everyone sitting tight for a Saturday morning start.
However, as it became clear that underfoot conditions would not improve and flooding on the track was not about to subside, the organising committee announced the decision to abandon the event at a meeting at Mayfield Hall at 10.30am today.
A member of the organising committee told Horsetalk that the decision was made in the interests of horse welfare and rider safety. Rain had persisted through the morning, with the ride base a sea of mud. Entry fees would be refunded.
Organisers are now faced with a massive cleanup, and will be left counting the cost, both financial and in terms of qualification and selection for the upcoming FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games.
Personnel from Equestrian Sports New Zealand’s High Performance programme are in discussions with squad riders and selectors.
A heavy rain warning for Canterbury was issued at 10.38am this morning by the MetService, but the rain was expected to ease this evening and clear overnight.
Further heavy rain is also expected today for all of Nelson, northern parts of Marlborough, North Otago and Dunedin.