Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Zealand: Girls are riding to success - Full Article

Mark Dawson | Thursday, August 18, 2011

The success of young riders Charlotte Grayling, Tayla Mason and Georgia Smith should not be too much of a surprise.

The equestrian centre at Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton is reckoned to be the best school facility in the country.

It has 82 stables, three all-weather arenas and a 1200m all-weather track and about a third of the 270 girls at the school are involved in the equestrian programme which is run by Libby Whyte.

"We have developed a reputation for the equestrian centre and that, in turn, has attracted more up-and-coming riders," said Whyte.

Byline2The success of top equestrian stars like Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson and Caroline Powell has provided a boost for a couple of local young riders.

Aspiring horsewomen Charlotte Grayling and Tayla Mason have been invited to attend national training camps in Taupo next month by Equestrian Sports New Zealand.

Such camps were discontinued some years ago when national sports funder Sparc cut the money it put into riding after equestrianism suffered a slump, starting with a poor 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A return to form has seen New Zealand take bronze at last year's World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, and Todd win the Badminton Horse Trials, Powell take Burghley and Nicholson claim the British championship at Gatcombe.

The resultant 40 per cent boost in Sparc funding means the re-establishment of a development programme that will help the 17-year-old Marton schoolgirls with their dreams of one day making the Olympic three-day eventing team.

And a third Nga Tawa Diocesan student, 14-year-old Georgia Smith, is also making her mark in the riding world. Smith, from Taihape, is one of four riders chosen to represent New Zealand at the Junior World Endurance Championships in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, in December.

Her speciality is distance events and at the world champs that means a 120km race which could take up to six hours...

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