Wakatipu Pony Club is sending experienced riders but novice horses to defend a prestigious South Island trophy in Southland this weekend.
After winning the Springston Trophy at Christchurch last year and in Cromwell in 2007, the club will be a hot favourite at the 31-team, three-day event, starting tomorrow at the Griffin Equestrian Centre, near Oreti Beach.
It’s the sixth Springston Trophy for senior riders Grace Manners-Wood, 19, Anna Nesbit, 18, and intermediate rider Olivia Robertson, 15.
Olivia’s intermediate colleague Lily Catterick, 15, is riding in her second Springs-ton Trophy.
Junior Lisa Milliken, 12, is taking part in her third whilst the only newcomer is junior Grace Percy, 13, from Glenorchy.
Team manager Jan Hunt, Olivia’s mother, says the riders have been training for three months on their new steeds but are at a disadvantage to Canterbury clubs whose eventing season is during winter.
“We go skiing and play hockey instead, so it is very challenging for the kids,” Hunt says.
“They have to be committed over winter to get their horses fit – that’s not always fun after school.”
During the event and this week’s lead-up the team is again being tutored by Auckland-based coaching guru Jacque Williams.
On their prospects, Hunt says: “We’re always hopeful.
“But it’s eventing, so it can go very, very well if all stay onboard or otherwise something might happen,” she says.