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Trans Tasman Young Rider Challenge
Christchurch, New Zealand

Eventing Canterbury is pulling out all the stops in the lead-up to April's South Island FEI Three Day Event, which this year incorporates the Trans Tasman Young Rider Challenge, to make the most of the opportunity of hosting the first ever international event to be staged at the Sheds NZ National Equestrian Centre at McLeans Island, near Christchurch.

For Eventing Canterbury securing the Trans Tasman Challenge was a huge boost for the area, not to mention the sport locally, says event director Kevin Bowden.

"It's something we have been working towards for a long time. To host any international team is an honour; young riders are our champions of the future. We have a dedicated, enthusiastic bunch of people who are very keen to make this event as successful as it can possibly be."

The Trans Tasman Young Rider Challenge has a long proud history; it's been held bi-annually since 1996. The competition pits the best New Zealand young riders against the top young riders in Australia in a CCI2* competition. After winning the first three (1996, 1998 and 2000) the Kiwis then lost the next three (2002, 2004 and 2006). Last year the Kiwis thrashed the Aussie team on home soil at Camperdown.

Bowden says Eventing Canterbury is thrilled to be involved with such a prestigious event. It will be run as part of the annual South Island Three Day Event, which will act as a vital qualifier for the National Three Day Event at Taupo in May.

As well as the CCI2* competition (incorporating the Trans Tasman), the event will also run a CIC3*, CCI1*, Pre Novice and Training classes, and the South Island Young Event Horse Championship.

Planning for the event was already well underway, with main sponsors all but confirmed. Although the NEC McLeans Island is a well appointed venue with stabling for 50 horses, outside yards, and numerous all-weather training surfaces, Bowden says the cross country course, which had originally been built for the National One Day Championships in the early 1990s, was tired and outdated. But this was all about to change with work on the new cross country track to bring it up to international level progressing well.

Technical delegate Bing Allen has already visited the site and approved the course plan developed by designer Nick Pyke. While some of the fences would be incorporated into the new track, Pyke says the course will be unlike anything anyone has jumped before. Some six new fences are to be built (over and above the ones built for Springston Trophy), along with changes to some of the existing complexes.

He says the CCI2* track will pose a genuine test with fences up-to-height and travelling over maximum distance with a maximum number of 37 jump efforts.

In designing the course, Pyke has taken into account the ground conditions utilizing the best of the terrain. Mowing of the track has already begun and all earthworks were completed last month (Jan).

The Ground Jury has also been appointed with Timaru's Bill Phiskie heading the line-up. Phiskie will be joined by Australian Clare Lewin, who officiated at the South Island 3DE last year, and FEI nominee Colonel Suangvich Aniruth-Deva Sam from Thailand.

The teams for the Young Rider clash are yet to be announced but the New Zealand selectors have named an eight-strong long-list from which they intend to choose the team, which includes Ashleigh McKinstry, Lauren Currie, Douglas Thompson, Larissa Srhoy (SI), Devan Wilson, Rochelle MacGregor (SI), Simon Gordon and Abbey Lawrence.

Given there is only two South Islander's named on the long-list it seems likely that it will be the first visit to McLeans Island for most riders.

The event will take place from April 23-25. Entries close April 5.

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