Aust team tops NZ in young rider challenge

The winning Victorian team.
The winning Victorian team. ©

An Australian team of young riders from Victoria have taken out the Inter Country Challenge against New Zealand, taking home the Juliet Scott Trophy.

Brittany Whelan and Tiki Taane.
Brittany Whelan and Tiki Taane. ©

Held as part of the South Canterbury North Otago Area ESNZ 2* show in Waimate, the Victorian team of Kristy Haworth, Jonathan Smith, Melissa Julius and Zoe Boulton got off to a great start on day one, finishing on a two-round score of zero for their top three riders.

The South Island team of Katie Meredith (Ohoka), Devon Van Til (Rangiora), Olivia Robertson (Ohoka) and Brittany Whelan (Dunedin) looked impressive in the first round, producing a faultless effort with all four riders going clear, but their opening luck wasn’t to last.

In the second round against the clock, Meredith chalked up 13 faults early. Clear rounds from the Aussies left the South Islander’s little option but to go for time. Robertson chased hard, she finished more than five seconds up on the clock but paid for it with a rail down, leaving the Aussies with four faults in-hand going into Sunday’s competition.

Riding new horses, the competition was close from the outset; Kath Ward-Smith’s testing course challenged riders from all angles. At the end of the first round, the Victorians still held a four-fault advantage, but three clear rounds in the second from the South Islanders applied the pressure. It all rested on the Aussie’s final rider Melissa Julius on Depardieu who took an unlucky rail, drawing the two teams’ level, forcing a jump-off to decide the victors.

Zoe Boulton and Critter.
Zoe Boulton and Critter. ©

Both teams selected one rider to ride off against the clock over a tight, twisty track. The South Island team was first out with Whelan riding team-mate Olivia Robertson’s speed-demon Tiki Taane. Whelan went for the doctor, taking many tight lines, jumping clear and stopping the clock in a super impressive 41.93. Victory looked within the Kiwi’s grasp, but 19-year-old Boulton, riding Meredith’s Critter, had other ideas. A well-known speed horse, Critter rose to the occasion giving Boulton a perfect ride, jumping clear in a speedy time of 40.53 to give the Aussies the win.

Victorian coach Paul Williams was thrilled with his young charges. “We didn’t come here for a holiday but the result is only a bonus. It has been a fantastic competition, and the hospitality we have received has been first rate.”

Despite the result, South Island team manager Selina Baddeley said it was a wonderful end to what had been a great competition. “They all rode extremely well.”

The South Island has been involved in the Inter-Country Teams Challenge since it was developed by the EFA Victorian Showjumping committee in 2003. A fierce rivalry has developed between Victoria and the South Island over the years, with the exchange been hosted annually by each country.

The competition was designed to give Young Riders (21 years and under) valuable experience in the format of Team competition, which will stand them in good stead for National Senior Team events such as the Olympics and World Equestrian Games. It also serves as important way to develop the strategies needed to travel and compete in a foreign country and, most importantly, to foster friendships between young riders from other countries.

• Local Otago show jumpers Claudia Hay and Brittany Whelan got just the dress rehearsal they needed ahead of the South Island richest event in Dunedin, finishing one-two in the Horse Grand Prix yesterday.

The pair will hold the hopes of Otago in their hands when they line-up in the $50,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Super Grand Prix as part of the equestrian programme at Ride The Rhythm on Friday night at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

With the late scratchings of visiting North Islander Maurice Beatson’s in-form My Gollywog and Susie Hayward’s (Ashburton) Andretti, the field was reduced to just five. Both Hay and Euro Sport Heartbreaker, and Whelan on Geoge Jetson notched up double clears to force a jump-off against the clock.

Out first, Hay and Euro Sport Heartbreaker came home clear, putting the pressure on Whelan. Whelan went for a fast time, but a stop early on the course ended their chances.

Cave’s Kelly Evans and Hammertime finished third on four faults, ahead of Beatson on Conyers, fourth. His second ride Schimmel Warrior was eliminated in the first round.

Claudia Hay and Euro Sport Heartbreaker.
Claudia Hay and Euro Sport Heartbreaker. ©

For Hay, the win couldn’t have come at a better time, filling her with confidence that the stallion is on target for a strong showing against 32 of Australasia’s top showjumpers on Friday. “I was thrilled with him. He was super today. I feel pretty confident. He feels fantastic,” says Hay.

Honours in the hotly contested Pony Grand Prix deservedly went to Christchurch teen Steffi Whittaker on Moonlight Glow, giving them their sixth individual Grand Prix win of the season. The pair continued their unbeatable run, producing one of three double clears, forcing it to a jump-off.

Out first, Rakaia’s Kimberley Bird went clear in a time of 63.41. Takapau’s Emily Fraser, who won the KiwiSpan Junior Rider earlier in the day aboard Kiwi Relic, was next taking an unlucky rail but finished faster in a time of 51.98. Last to go, the class was Whittaker’s for the taking. Despite a few lucky moments, Moonlight Glow delivered, finishing in a nippy 51.42 to take victory.

Invercargill’s Nicole White and Cricklewood Ace continued their successful run taking out the Mitavite South Island Young Rider series with the only clear round as well as the 1.30m Championship, while the Caledonian Amateur Rider went to Elizabeth Bell (Ashburton) on Double Bass.

Although Beatson didn’t pick up any of the major prizes he was dominant in the age group classes winning both the seven year old series with Parker and finished first equal in the Fernhill Five Year Old Series with Mandalay Cove. The Mitavite Six Year Old Series went to Amanda Brown (Rangiora) on Glenmark.

This focus now switches to Dunedin for Ride The Rhythm, followed by two days of  jumping the Taieri Agricultural Park in Mosgiel.


RESULTS:  Horse Grand Prix: Claudia Hay (Mosgiel) Euro Sport Heartbreaker 1, Brittany Whelan (Dunedin) George Jetson 2, Kelly Evans (Cave) Hammertime 3, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Conyers 4.

Pony Grand Prix: Steffi Whittaker (Halswell) Moonlight Glow 1, Kimberley Bird (Rakaia) Brenwood Stevie James 2, Emily Fraser (Takapau) Tony The Pony 3, Grace O’Sullivan (Rangiora) Tui’s Gold 4, Emily Fraser (Takapau) Tiger Tale LS 5, Grace Percy (Queenstown) Paradise Brigadier 6.

Euro Sport Elite Rider: Brad Cunningham (Christchurch) Kiwi Crusher 1, Georgina Power (Little River) Brooklynite 2, Claudia Hay (Mosgiel) Euro Sport Centavos3, Sarah Isbister (Perth, West Australia) Little Britton 4, Claudia Hay (Mosgiel) Euro Sport Heartbreaker 5, Juliet Scott (Cave) Amarula MVNZ 6.

Mitavite South Island Young Rider: Nicole White (Invercargill) Cricklewood Ace 1, Brittany Whelan (Dunedin) George Jetson 2, Katie Meredith (Rangiora) Applaud 3, Devon Van Til (Rangiora) Akubra 4, Katie Meredith (Rangiora) Rio Madrid 5.

KiwiSpan Junior Rider Series: Emily Fraser (Takapau) Kiwi Relic 1, Rose Alfeld (Weedons) Capprera 2, Rose Alfeld (Weedons) Last Song 3, Emily Fraser (Takapai) Maximillion II 4, Thomas Kerr (Ashburton) Magic Moments 5, Sally Spicer (Christchurch) Weiti Eros 6.

Caledonian Amateur Rider Series: Elizabeth Bell (Ashburton) Double Bass 1, Kate Taylor (Kurow) Next 2, Jacquie Crutchley (Christchurch) Hot Chocolate II 3, Daf Davies (Gore) Ngahiwi Lola 4, Jackie Wear (West Melton) Guscott 5, Kirsty Sharapoff (West Melton) Shoot The Breeze 6.

Seven Year Old Series: Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Parker 1, Kate Taylor (Kurow) Next 2, Kelly Evans (Cave) Ink II 3, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Lenarc 4, Boulevard II 5, Angela Ruddenklau (Kurow) Bambino 6.

Mitavite Six Year Old Series: Amanda Brown (Rangiora) Glenmark 1.

Fernhill Stud Five Year Old Series: Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Mandalay Cove 1=, Kate Cavanagh (West Melton) MG 1=, Zoe Shore (Ashburton) Burberry 1=.

Inter Country Young Rider Challenge: Victoria, Australia (Melissa Julius (Warrnambool), Jonathon Smith, Zoe Boulton (Sale), Kristy Haworth (Mortlake)) 1; South Island (Devon Van Til (Rangiora), Katie Meredith (Rangiora), Olivia Robertson (Ohoka), Brittany Whelan (Dunedin)) 2.

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