Designing and developing exciting new cross country tracks with New Zealand’s best

There’s something about the Clareville Complex that makes the home of Eventing Wairarapa special.

From the main road into Masterton from Wellington you get a full view of the facility, leaving all those passing through in no doubt that this is true blue horse country. Complemented during events with a multitude of beautifully presented mobiles, there is a resident army of permanent cross country jumps that are well positioned over the sprawling grounds. Clareville provides for the full spectrum of riders, with the ability to challenge the challengers, and develop the green and keen. And it is about to get even better.

Investing in the cross country is serious business for the Eventing Wairarapa committee, which moved to Clareville from Featherston in 2012 to better centrally serve the Wairarapa community. Countless days were spent moving cross country fences between the two venues and further development of the grounds was given high priority.

In 2015 a grant of $30,000 from the NZ Racing Board enabled the first tranche of this work, and around $5000 a year has since been invested to further develop and maintain the cross country course.

Eventing Wairarapa is now implementing Stage II of its XC Development Project, which is likely to include:

  • Water Jump redevelopment
  • Design and build of 12 new mobile fences
  • Two new palisades
  • 95 cm Stone Wall

With $15,000 capital investment to spend on jumps before this years’ event, and awaiting the results of further grant applications, the committee is hoping to be in a position to complete the redevelopment plans ahead of its 2021 event. Right now though, November’s event plans are well underway, and it’s full steam ahead to deliver something special.

In the medals at each of his four Olympics and with multiple World Games under his belt, Blyth Tait is every inch a champion and he is bringing that invaluable breadth of experience Wairarapa’s way.

Tait is coming to Clareville to design for Eventing Wairarapa’s Fagan Motor’s Spring Horse Trials on 21 & 22 November, and the organising committee is excited to see what his considerable talents will deliver for this year’s 105, 2* and 3* competitors.

Local course builder, Chris Lever, is returning from building courses in Australia to do the build. His beautiful work and attention to detail, and his wood carved animals, fish and ornamentals that decorate the course are a great feature that riders and photographers appreciate.

With Lever’s partner, Donna Harley, designing the lower level tracks, the opportunity to learn from Tait means Wairarapa will benefit going forward.

Tait has already started his design planning and Eventing Wairarapa is using the opportunity to offer local riders some professional training. Tait will take lessons on 19th September and again on Monday 23rd November immediately following the weekend’s event.

Covid-19 is, of course, the elephant in the room. Eventing Wairarapa is doing all it can to ensure it will put on its best event yet, but Alert Level restrictions may yet thwart their best intentions. Still, the revamped cross country will be ready and waiting for riders, and the investment will be well spent.

“Loyal sponsors are the foundation of our sport and we are lucky to have a great team behind us,” said Anna Cardno, Event Convener.

“This year, Covid-19 has threatened equestrian sports the same as it has most other codes and organisations. We wrote to all our usual sponsors and told them we’d promote them as we always do but we didn’t expect funding this year. Companies are hurting and we didn’t want to add to it.”

“But Wairarapa is a special community and we are so lucky to enjoy the support of so many who have chosen to back us, even in the challenging landscape this year brings.”

At the top of a long list of sponsors, this year’s event is made possible by the generosity of Fagan Motors and grants from Carterton District Council, Trust House and ESNZ Eventing..

“We feel very privileged to be working with great designers and builders, with the backing of a really committed community,” Eventing Wairarapa Chair, Sarah Dalziell-Clout said. “It will be exciting to see, in a few months time, what Blyth, Donna and Chris develop for our riders.”

“It’s going to be pretty special.”

The Eventing Wairarapa schedule is up on Equestrian Entries. People wanting to find out more about the horse trials and the Blyth Tait riding clinics can contact Event Convener, Anna Cardno on 027 205 2422 or find Eventing Wairarapa on Facebook.