Springston in their step

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Wakatipu ride away with second SI equestrian title in three years

WAKATIPU’s victory at the South Island’s biggest equestrian event was sweeter than ever for the six girls involved.

The riders, aged 11-18, claimed the coveted Springston Trophy for the second time in three years after successful performances at the three-day event in Christchurch.

This year’s win is better than their first in 2007 because it’s the first time in five years the trophy’s been won by a team other than the hosts, co-manager Jan Hunt says.

“For us to be able to take it out of the [Canterbury] district, it makes it even more special than Cromwell two years ago.”

Central Otago Pony Club – which the Waka­­tipu club falls under – hosted the 2007 event.

The local team – Anna Nesbit, Grace Mannerswood, Emma Milliken, Kristi Doherty, Lisa Milliken and Hunt’s daughter Olivia Robertson – started steadily and were in fourth place after dressage.

But they crept up to first after their crosscountry, with other teams penalised for faults, and managed to hold on to the top slot with clean showjumping rounds.

“Being fourth in the dressage probably made the girls even more determined,” Hunt says.

The team had the help of Auckland-based equestrian coach Jacque Williams in preparation. Williams’s $350-a-day group fee – not including flying her down and hosting her – is a worthwhile investment, Hunt says.

“It’s just a little bit of a different way of doing it and it’s certainly paid off for the girls.”