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Young equestrians impress

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Wairarapa’s young riders have been given a convincing pass mark from New Zealand’s most illustrious equestrian athlete.

Eight-time Olympian Mark Todd is in town this week, offering his expertise in coaching clinics for over 30 riders.

His sessions covered cross country on Tuesday, and show jumping on Wednesday and Thursday.

The local riders impressed Todd, who said there was plenty of talent despite their young ages.

“They were an enthusiastic bunch.

“A lot of them are quite young and just starting out but there were a couple of nice horses and some young people who rode pretty well.”

The quality of the facilities at Clareville Complex was a reflection of the calibre of riders in the region, he said.

“It’s a brilliant set-up.

“It was a great cross country course to work on and we’ve got show jumping here the next couple of days — it’s a very nice venue.”

Todd was encouraged to visit Wairarapa by good friend and fellow Olympian, Masterton’s Tinks Pottinger.

Pottinger and Todd rode together in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where the team placed third for a bronze medal.

Todd said it was his first trip to Wairarapa for a long time.

“You know what, it’s so long since I was down here.

“I think I rode here back in the 90s, but I’m not actually sure if I have done any teaching clinics down here before.”

Todd had been contemplating his own competitive future following a disappointing campaign at this year’s Olympic Games, but said he was in no rush to make any decisions.

“I’m certainly going to be riding next year, and then we’ll just see how it goes.

“I’m just going to take it one year at a time.”

Todd’s sessions capped off a successful week of eventing in the area, after the Fagan Motors Spring Horse Trials were held at the same venue last weekend.

The trials saw over 200 riders competing in dressage, cross country and show jumping.

The top class, Fagan Motors 2*+, was won by local rider Sarah Dalziell-Clout on Benrose Superstar.

Pottinger said the arena’s facilities had improved significantly in recent years.

“It really is a ground for Wairarapa to be proud of, and a real asset to the lower north island riding community.

“Our course designers have put a lot of work in to get it to this very high standard, and our event always gets fantastic feedback every year.”

Secretary of Eventing Wairarapa, Anna Cardno, said the sport was finally getting the recognition it deserved.

“We are proud to have been selected to host the 2018 New Zealand Pony Club Association Eventing & Equestrian Games Championships here in 2018.

“Riding might fly under the radar a bit in Wairarapa, but it is a huge sport here and we are very well supported by the community.”

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