Monday, February 07, 2011

New Zealand: North Island Champs - Kurutau

North Island Champs - Kurutau - 22-23rd January 2011

It was a mother-daughter victory at Taupo’s IRT North Island Endurance Champs last month with Susan Reid on Makahiwi Achilles recording a back to back win in the IRT CEI 3* 160km ride (following up from last year’s win in the same class) and daughter Sian Reid, riding AA Oscar, taking out the IRT CEI 2* 120km ride the next day.

Taupo hosted the event at Kuratau in very wet conditions on January 22 and 23 with some describing the event as “aquatic endurance”, the rain was so persistent, especially on day two. However most rode well and completion rates were very high, proving that this track will be more than up to scratch for the Nationals being run here at Easter this year, under hopefully much better conditions.

For Susan Reid it was an emphatic win on the 15 year old “Chilli”, owned by Pip Mutch, the combinations’ third win from three starts within 12 months at 3* level, which must be something of an NZ record for sure.

The ever consistent Jenny Champion and Freckles finished second in the 3* 160km ride (and was later awarded Best Conditioned Horse), 40 odd minutes behind Reid and just ahead of third placed Mark Tylee and Jacob, and Michael Wakeling riding Iti, their first start at this level to finish a very credible fourth. Eight out of the 11 starters qualified in this top class, a great tribute to event organizers and track markers.

Sian Reid and AA Oscar won the 2* 120km class of 30 combinations by over 20 minutes and also claimed Best Conditioned, rounding out a great weekend for the Reid’s with their third horse, AA Sabatage, ridden by Rosemary Revell, placing third in the IRT CEI 1* 90km ride.

23 combinations excelled in the IRT 2* 120km with the top three finishing in under eight hours. Behind Sian Reid was Raewyn Carter and Maioro Fire, followed by Sean Trafford and Sayfwood Rolling Stone.

Five out of six Juniors/Young Riders completed their 2* 120km with Emma Armstrong and Craig Royston O’Ryan winning by over an hour from Georgia Smith (Glenmore Astroid), and sole CEN 120km Open competitor Natasha Guest on Cyden Manana completed their first ride at this level.

The IRT CEI 1* 90km ride also was big – 30 combinations again, and five in the Junior/Young Rider class. Riding at and winning his first 1* was Frank Aldridge riding Merimindi Finali, finishing in 5:49:04 and just over a minute ahead of second-placed Maxi Mueller on Mauku Mistique, who was followed closely by Revell. The Young Riders were only slightly slower, Amanda Walton and Lotus Blue Moon finishing strongly to take out the championship class at this level.

The 60km Championship classes were contested by 16 Opens and 3 Juniors with a total of 15 qualifiers.

Hopefully this event will be remembered for the champions that excelled, the OC, vets and officials who made it what it was and the tracks for what they were, despite the rain.