Whangarei stages eventing nationalsSave
By Andrew Johnsen
Whangarei's Barge Showgrounds is hosting New Zealand's best up-and-coming horse riders for the NZ Pony Club Eventing Championships.
Northland will be well represented at the event, with eight of the best competing in the three-day event against competitors from right across the country.
Dana Hawkins on Irish Fame, Jacob Jenkins on M & M, Summer Denize on Limerick's Black Samba and Isabelle Jameson riding Darvel Jade make up Northland's partial team, while there are three individual riders.
Miya Fleming (Royal Edition) is competing in the DC Individual class, which is riders aged 18 and under. Tara Jones (Night n Day) and Ella Taurua (Pendel White Silhouette) are riding in the 14 and under Mark Todd competition.
NZPCA organising committee chairwoman Barbara Woolhouse said everything was coming along nicely for the competition.
"It's awesome, the course looks fantastic. The teams are doing their first walks on the cross country, and the coaches and managers are really thrilled with the tracks," she said.
"Everything's going well at the moment. We had our first official welcome which went brilliantly. Teams have come right from Invercargill and Otago, arriving earlier in the week.
"We've got quite a strong Northland team, particularly in the MT and DC competitions."
Northland hasn't quite got a full team in the A1 competition so they will draft in reserve riders from other teams to fill out their unit.
Riders will compete in three different events: dressage, cross country and show jumping.
Northland last hosted the NZPCA Eventing Championships in 2006.
Woolhouse said it was a great coup for Northland.
"We're over the moon here. It's been 12 months of hard work and we're really thrilled to be hosting it," she said.
"It's been 11 years since we last hosted so it's fantastic to have it back. We're really lucky that the facilities are of a great standard at Barge.
"The riders' levels are high and there's a lot of good camaraderie and support between competitors. It's neat to see that all that is still there."
There is no entry fee for people wanting to attend the three-day competition. Woolhouse said there are plenty of vantage points and exciting areas to excite supporters.
"For me the best jump is on the bottom flat. There is a combination with a sawmill pit," she said.
"Over the back of the course there's a water complex and that is going to be quite challenging for our riders and particularly for our A1 riders.
"In the hole in the rock part they have to jump through a rock-shaped construction with a log in it."
The dressage competition kicks off at 9am todayand runs through the morning.
Cross country starts at 9am on Saturday morning while the show jumping kicks off at 8:30am on Sunday.