The first ride in 2019 for the Wairarapa club was held at Daisybank Station just out of Martinborough, thanks to the hospitality of the Harvey family. Large numbers of pre-entries were received, and the committee was gearing up for a big weekend. Unfortunately the hot and windy weather forecast and various rider and horse illness and injury resulted in quite a large number of riders pulling out or not arriving which was somewhat disappointing for the hard-working organising committee. However riders who were able to make it enjoyed a great weekend, fantastic views, and an excellent, flowing track with no gates (always such a treat).

With Daisybank being a month out from North Island champs this year, entries in the 80km class were up considerably, as riders put final notches on their horse fitness preparations for champs.

Ten CTR riders took on the course on Saturday afternoon in distances from 15 to 30km, with all starters successfully qualifying. Frank Aldridge returned to competition with Mystica Bandito and took the open 30km class. Donna Cherry and her newer ride Aurora Kazam were rewarded for their trip over the hill by winning the intermediate in a close fought battle with Sue Smith and the great CTR horse Taurere Dyani. Sole junior entrant Emma Watson and Candy tucked a well-earned 1st under their girth, and Jennifer Armstrong won the novice 15km. Our littlest rider, Ashlea Watson and her gorgeous new pony Scarlett happily took 1st in the lead-rein, with Dad going the extra mile on foot in the late Saturday afternoon heat. Four novice endurance riders headed out in the 40km, with Shane Dougan and his latest home-bred Tararua Malibu crossing the line first.

In a first for the club, a two-day 80km novice elevator ride was hosted with all three entrants successfully qualifying; Grace Blyth, riding the Ireland horse Supre Zerlina was delighted to complete her 2nd 80km and now be open graded.

Sunday was endurance day, with 12 riders lining up in the 80km classes. The start time was brought forward due to anticipated high temperatures; however a good breeze up on the hills kept conditions fairly comfortable in the first two loops, though the day heated up considerably by the time the 3rd loop rolled around.

The class was won by Sean Trafford, riding the very well proven stallion Rivergum Dark Knight in under 6 hours with exceptional lag times. This is certainly a combination to watch out for in the TIGL 120km senior class at Norths early February. Jane Ferguson and Daagir turtled the class, following close behind training buddies Gemma Haywood and Roselea Royal Fire as they rode carefully in consideration of upcoming champs goals; both were rewarded with spotless logbooks across all three loops on their 16 year-old geldings.

Sole 60km entrant Tayla Morris, riding Shantelle Galbraith’s lovely RNZ Fordite, enjoyed her ride enormously for the win.

Six riders entered the 40km classes, with four successfully completing; there was one unfortunate lameness vet-out, and one novice horse was withdrawn pre-ride and taken home when severe separation anxiety by her paddock buddy was likely to cause spiking heart rates in his 80km ride the following day….

It was a good weekend and sincere thanks to landowners, ground jury and crew, Mel our ever loyal club vet, and Frank for marking a very fun track.

Jane Ferguson