Riding gun eyes Otago rep honours

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A Wakatipu equestrian event will be a stepping stone for a Queenstown up-and-comer eyeing the Otago-Southland eventing team. 

Lisa Milliken, 14, will be perfecting her performance at the Wakatipu Pony Club’s annual one-day event, now in its sixth year, on the picturesque course at Speargrass Flat and Hunter Road. 

The 60 horse and rider combinations competing in dressage, show jumping and cross country on Sunday will be judged on harmony, discipline and endurance. 

Numbers are down on previous years, but organisers are excited about the large number of young riders that the club boasts. 

Event organiser Nikky Catterick says: “The club has a wealth of younger riders, and the club is now focusing on these younger riders.” 

Top club riders include Lisa and Grace Manners-Wood, 20 – both are vying for a place in the Otago-Southland Pony Club eventing team, which competes at the national championships in Oamaru in April. 

Making the team requires three trials over January and February, throughout Otago-Southland. 

Manners-Wood, already a member of the Otago-Southland dressage team, will miss this weekend’s Wakatipu event – she’s competing in the South Island Dressage Championships in Gore. 

The local event has a change it structure this year. For the first time it’ll be run under the New Zealand Pony Club Association, rather than Equestrian Sports NZ. 

This has seen the two highest graded classes, intermediate and novice, removed as a lack of entries meant they weren’t financially viable. 

“Last year we had only three entries in the two top classes and they took all the prize money and extra work”, Catterick says. 

In 2008, the competition was named ‘Best South Island Event’ due to its exciting environment, high levels of organisation and entertainment for spectators. 

Dressage commences at 8am and the show jumping 10.30am.