Well over 100 horses and riders are entered to compete in the National Endurance Championships to be held in Wairarapa at Easter.
Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club President Shane Dougan says the host club is delighted by the strong number of entries from all over New Zealand and was looking forward to a highly successful championships.
There are 32 horse and rider combinations entered in the longest-distance ride, the CEI three-star 160km event, which begins at 1am on Easter Friday.
Riders entered in the three-star ride include several past winners of island and national championship titles, including Murray Smith riding Glenmore Toyboy, Shane Dougan riding Taralea Sheer Illusion, Jenny Champion riding Freckles, and Mark Tylee riding Class Act, so competition should be intense.
Shane Dougan says the 160km ride will be held over six loops covering farmland around the ride base at Whareama Domain, east of Masterton. He says much of the course is flat, with some rolling hills and mostly good conditions underfoot, so it is likely to be a fast track and many competitors will not need to take anything like the maximum 16 hours allowed to complete the course.
"We wanted to set a course that is challenging for some of the best endurance riders in New Zealand, but we also wanted to make it a fair go, and give everyone a reasonable chance of completing the course successfully," he says. "I think the course we have at Whareama will achieve that."
Another 31 riders are entered in the 120km two-star event on Easter Sunday (including 11 riders in the junior 120km), 28 riders (including 9 juniors) in the one-star event on the Saturday, and 11 riders in the Competitive Trail Ride events on the Saturday. The club also expects significant numbers of entries in the 40km ride on the Sunday and 80km on the Saturday (entries are taken right up till the day of these non-championship rides).
Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club is grateful for the support of the Whareama community, landowners and sponsors who have made the event possible. In particular significant sponsorship from Mitavite, Trust House and Tuff Rock has provided valuable support to the championships.