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Olympian in town for dressage champs

By Jake Beleski

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Wairarapa is attracting people of all ages, and even an Olympian, to the region for this weekend’s Eastwood Motor Group Ltd Wairarapa regional dressage championships.

About 150 competitors from around the lower North Island will participate in the two-day event, to be held at Solway Showgrounds beginning tomorrow.

Among them will be Julie Brougham, who competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Dressage Wairarapa president Wendy Jeffery said there would be a wide range of ages across those competitors.

“Nearly 30 of the riders are under 20 years old, which is really good, and there’s at least one girl that’s probably only about 10 years old, who’s riding a tiny wee pony.

“We do have a masters’ championship as well and just over 20 riders have put their names forward for that.

“Looking at the ages, I know that at least one of those people is in their 70s.”

The event caters for graded riders from level one through to grand prix, while there are also classes for non-graded riders to give them an opportunity to participate in the event.

Judges were coming from all parts to lend their expertise to the competition.

“A number of judges are coming from overseas,” Ms Jeffery said.

“We have one from the United Kingdom and two from New South Wales.

“There are about 13 judges — the rest are from the lower North Island as well as two from Otago.”

The musical dressage tests always proved to be a fan-favourite, and they will be running all day during Saturday’s competition.

This week’s wild weather was not a concern for the event, she said.

“With the all-weather surface, it helps us when the ground is very hard in the summer, or very wet in the winter.

“We also invested in some sandbags to stop the rails blowing so we should be fine whatever the weather does.”

It was expected the competition would be beneficial for the entire region, with plenty of people descending on Wairarapa for the event.

“Most of the riders have people that come with them, so we would be expecting over 300 people on the grounds this weekend.”

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