National championships under way year later than scheduled

One of the many distinctive jumps designed by Robbie McLean, of Taranaki, who has been in...
One of the many distinctive jumps designed by Robbie McLean, of Taranaki, who has been in Cromwell for the past two months designing and building the course for the the New Zealand Pony Club Association national eventing championships. PHOTOS: KERRIE WATERWORTH
The New Zealand Pony Club Association national eventing championships are under way in Cromwell, a year later than originally scheduled.

The Otago-Southland region was due to host the three-day dressage, cross-country and showjumping competition last year but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Championships chairman Geoff Hewson said having the extra year had helped as it enabled them to finalise funding, and secure more sponsors and grants.

They decided not to spend extra money reprinting the sweatshirts worn by volunteers and organisers, so the NZPCA national championships 2020 logo had become "a bit of a talking point", he said.

Thirty-nine riders are competing in the championships and 17 in the non-championship grade.

Otago-Southland squad member Kate Hamilton competes in the dressage section at Cromwell...
Otago-Southland squad member Kate Hamilton competes in the dressage section at Cromwell racecourse yesterday.
All three parts of the competition are being held in the grounds of the Cromwell racecourse.

Dressage convener Diane Bell said of the 15 NZPCA areas, seven were represented.

Waikato was the only full team to compete from the North Island, while Wellington, Wairarapa and Waitemata Rodney are represented as a composite team.

"We have not been well supported by the North Island areas. It is a long way to come and it does cost a lot of money to get six horses and six riders across the strait, but for three years we go north before it is back in the South Island," she said.

Kate Hamilton (18), of Winton, an NZPCA Otago-Southland squad member, was one of the last riders to compete in the dressage yesterday.

She said she has been riding horses since she was 4 and had "won a lot of South Island competitions", but it was her first time in the nationals.

She said she was nervous about competing in the cross-country today but it was the section she enjoyed the most as "it gives you a thrill and you go fast".

Bell said some of New Zealand’s top equestrians, such as Mark Todd, Blyth Tait, Andrew Nicholson and Jonelle Price, had gone through the pony club system.

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