A new venue and track, provided by the Kohuratahi Endurance Riding Club, had riders driving into the back blocks of Whangamomona to Aotuhia Station for the first FEI event of the season.
The riders in the CEI 1* 80km headed out at 5am for what proved to be a challenging course but all navigated the hills in the very hot conditions to make it to the end with just one horse having the misfortune to vet out lame. The winner was the highly successful combination, and current national champion, Georgia Smith and Glenmore Vixen. Starting hot on the heels of the senior riders were two JY riders (one open, one novice) who started their ride at 5,15am with Jayden Loveridge riding a careful ride on Makahiwi Phoenix to win the JY 80km.
The prize giving that followed on Saturday was a feast to behold with Robert Reid doing a fine job of supervising the cooking of a hogget on the spit.
Everyone awoke to another hot day on Sunday with the Open 80km senior riders heading out at 5am with some of those who rode on Saturday on different horses to enjoy the track again. This time it was Deirdre Bartlett riding Craig Royston Zaria who headed home the field to complete a successful weekend after the long drive from Wairarapa.
In spite of the tough track several novice horses and riders qualified in the 40km and 80km novice rides as well as some of the locals doing a 20km which they thoroughly enjoyed.
The hospitality from the Kohuratahi Club members, local residents and friends was superb as usual with riders, crew and officials all looking forward to returning next year. And many thanks must go to the owners of this lovely property who allowed endurance folk to move in and take over the excellent facilities for the weekend.
CEI 1* 80km: G Smith & Glenmore Vixen 1, S Trafford & Rivergum Dark Knight 2, Pip Mutch & Mauku Bella 3, D Bartlett & Craig Royston Xmas Star
Open JY 80km: J Loveridge & Makahiwi Phoenix 1
Open senior 80km: D Bartlett & Craig Royston Zaria, Daryl Owen & Miro Bay Plenty 2, A Smith & Glenmore Tango 3, G Smith & Glenmore Style Ish 4
Intermediate senior 40km: R Reid & Kowhai Martini 1