Wairarapa endurance riders in the New Zealand team. Jane Ferguson and Daagir, left, Ana Whitehead and Dundevale Nazecca, Deirdre Bartlett and Craig Royston Xmas Star and Craig Royston Zaria. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EQUESTRIAN

Three Wairarapa riders will represent New Zealand in an upcoming transtasman endurance challenge.

North Island and national Grade 3 160km junior champion Ana Whitehead, Deirdre Bartlett, and Jane Ferguson have been picked for the biennial international against Australia at Waiouru on December 1.

Five Australian riders will compete against the New Zealanders, on horses loaned by the Equestrian Sport New Zealand endurance community, and with form horses in both teams, competition is likely to be red hot.

Whitehead and her pocket rocket Dundevale Nazecca were unbeatable in the junior grade last season and will spearhead the team competing in the Grade 2 120km distance, alongside Kohuratahi rider Pip Mutch, the North Island and national champion in the senior grade.

Bartlett and her grey gelding, Craig Royston Xmas Star, will contest the Grade 1 80km class. With Craig Royston Xmas Star looking fit, they are expected to put in a quality performance.

Bartlett won the North Island Grade 3 160km title on her other horse Craig Royston Zaria in 2018 and has offered Zaria to the Australian team for the event.

Ferguson and her 17-year-old Arabian gelding, Daagir, have had a consistent season. They were fourth in the 120km Grade 2 North Island championships at Whareama in February, won the North Island CTR open championships and were fourth in their first 160km Grade 3 competition in the national championships at Easter.

While Whitehead has already represented New Zealand, this is a first-time selection for Bartlett and Ferguson and a dream come true for both.

Ferguson said it will be an event she’ll never forget

“I never thought I’d ever represent my country when I started the sport eight years ago, and to wear the silver fern is a huge honour.”