April 2, 2008

Judge Jennifer Hislop, Champion of Champions Pony winner Taylor Yarndley and Mansfield Park Magnolia, WSC organiser Elizabeth Charleston and judge Judith Otto.

Champion of Champions Horse winner Deborah Ferris and Centre of Attention.

Champion Lead Rein Pony and winner of the childrens bike donated by the Bike Barn of Hamilton, Charlotte Chittick and Fortification Bodeka with handler/mum Lisa Chittick.
Pictures: © Kinder Ward

More than 80 competitors turned out for the weekend's Waikato Showing Championships, which raised $3000 for the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust.

Entries came from as far away as Auckland and Hastings for the event, at the Waikato Equestrian Centre in Hamilton. It was organised by former international Revlon model Elizabeth Charleston.

The novelty event of the day was the Dog Show, with more than 40 entries competing during the lunch break. Because of the populairty of this section it was split into two rings for Big Dogs and Small Dogs. Elizabeth's mother Jocelyn Charleston and sister Jennifer Hislop were given the responsibility of adjudicating this extremely popular section.

The idea for the Waikato Showing Championships was taken from the extremely successful Manawatu Showing Championships that has been running for five years with all proceeds being donated to the Arohanui Hospice. Debbie Bridge and HorseWyse Saddlery were thrilled that Elizabeth decided to run with their show idea and donate the proceeds to the CatWalk Trust.

Sponsorship was the key factor to the Waikato Showing Championships. Equestrians from all over New Zealand donated funds to the show to pay for the ribbons. McCutcheon Transport of Hastings donated all of the 1st to 4th prize ribbons and the makers of the ribbons, Quality Presentations donated all nine of the 'Big Red' Smartest of Parade sashes.

Kiwi equestrian Anne Beetham, now residing in Singapore, donated $1000 to "help run the show". The prizes were sent in thick and fast - Horse Trader Magazine donated dozens of their new April issue as well as subscriptions to winners, as did Waikato lifestyle magazine UNO that will feature the show in their social pages.

Mrs Ann Browne of Cambridge kindly re-donated a stunning trophy won in the 1950s by her top show horse 'Trooper' to the Champion of Champions Show Horse, won by Auckland rider Debra Ferris aboard her lovely grey hack Centre of Attention. Elizabeth Charleston donated a silver tray to the winner of the Champion of Champions Pony event that went home with Taylor Yarndley and Manfields Park Magnolia of Te Awamutu. Both Champion of Champions winners received a $100 voucher donated by Garrad's Horse & Hound Saddlery of Cambridge.

The Bike Barn of Hamilton came up with the goods by donating two children's bikes to the winners of the Champion Lead Rein Pony and Champion First Ridden Pony. A delighted Charlotte Chittick from Matamata abandoned her pony Fortification Bodeka in the care of mum Lisa, as she peddled out of the ring on her new bike after taking out the Lead Rein Pony Championship.

Serena Pollock was the recipient of the 'Geoff Lyall Showing Scholarship'. Serena, a regular supporter of A&P shows in the Mid-Northern area, will receive three lessons with top Australian riding instructor Geoff Lyall and a riding coat kindly donated by Aunty Joy's Showing Accessories.

Racing personality Bridgette O'Sullivan was their with her mother Liz Smith and friend Claire Hawkes (nee Jones) to support Georgia and Caitlin O'Sullivan in the Junior Pleasure Mount section. The O'Sullivan girls had a wonderful day taking home lots of gift prizes as well as the Champion and Reserve Champion award in their section. Caitlin and Geogia's dad, racing legend Lance O'Sullivan who is a patron of the CatWalk Trust.

The Waikato Equestrian Centre donated the use of the facilities to the show and did not charge their normal ground fees. This was very generous of the WEC and meant more money being donated to 'CatWalk'.

Showing families got into the act by donating wonderful prizes to the show. Maxine Reed-Smythe, Natacha Otto, Shona Duncan, Gaylene Lennard and Amy Wilson all donated lovely garlands to the championship winners.

"I was thrilled how the show went and intend to run it next year as there were so many requests for it to be held again in 2009," Elizzabeth said. "Normally there is a gap between the Horse of the Year Show and the Royal Easter. So I intend to hold the WSC's in between those floating dates to help riders keep their horses ticking over for the Royal Easter. I was overwhelmed by all the support I got for the show.

"Somehow I managed to throw it all together in five weeks from the time I decided to hold it. But I couldn't have done without the support from all those people that donated money for the ribbons, donated prizes, rode their horses and ponies at the show and gave up their time to judge, steward and run the show day office. Those people are the stars. They are the ones that made it happen. I just pulled them all together. It feels great to be able to put back into my sport and raise money for my favorite charity. It's impossible to list all the names of people and companies that donated to the show - but they know who they are and I am indebted to them."