The New Zealand team and their support crew. Back row: Scott Whitehead (left), Vicky Whitehead and Mark Chapman. Front row: Amanda McConachy, Ana Whitehead, chef d’equipe Kelly Haywood, Vanessa Tiffen and Tess Wells. PHOTO/DENISE KEELAN PHOTOGRAPHY

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Wairarapa Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Club members Ana Whitehead and Kelly Haywood returned from Australia as trans-Tasman champions after an endurance equestrian event in Queensland.

Whitehead — from Tinui but now in Year 10 at Wairarapa College — was part of the four-strong team selected to contest the event, while Haywood was chef d’equipe for the team.

The other riders were Amanda McConachy (Raetihi), Vanessa Tiffen (Fairlie) and Tess Wells (Marlborough).

Haywood said three of their riders had completed an 80km ride, but the fourth was eliminated from the 120km ride due to her horse picking up an injury after about 70km.

Whitehead’s time of five hours, 54 minutes, 29 seconds over 80km was the fastest time in the team.

In the Australian team, two riders were unable to finish due to their horses pulling up lame.

The New Zealand team managed to accumulate more points through their three riders who finished to claim the winner’s trophy.

“I’m really proud of them and I had such a good team to work with — they were all so good with each other and there were no team dramas at all,” Haywood said.

“The team was perfect — I don’t think I could have selected them better myself.”

Whitehead had done an “amazing job”, and had probably taught a few people a thing or two, Haywood said.

“It was certainly a challenge, but we got some great horses from some pretty high up people.”

Haywood said she had received plenty of support for the group’s endeavours, especially from The Lolly Jar in Greytown, and Paper Road Vineyard in Masterton.

Haywood and Whitehead will now prepare for local events, with their club’s first ride scheduled for Sunday, September 3.