PC Champs: ‘a good dollop of challenges’

It's a huge week for Pony Club and a huge week for Masterton as keen equestrians descend on Masterton en masse!

Meg Dempster and Pixie Caramel were the DC Champions in 2017, pictured here with supporters and other members of the Manawatu West Coast team

Masterton is going to be full of pony clubbers next week! The 2018 NZPCA Eventing Championships is being held in Masterton with the dressage on Thursday at Solway Showgrounds, cross-country on Friday in Clareville and show jumping Saturday back at Solway. It follows on from the Mounted Games Championships held on Tuesday and Wednesday at Solway, so it is a huge week in the Pony Club calendar.

For two-star eventer Beth Wilson, of Franklin-Thames Valley, the eventing champs is a big thing for her, and this will be her fifth appearance at the competition. She’s heading to Masterton with the goal of doing well both from a team perspective and individual, riding Alto au Audax. Last year when the champs were held at Whangarei, she and ‘Toy’ were second in the A1 section, dropping one rail to give Gemma Hampson and Pintado Prima Rosa the win. The pair won the DC section the year before, when they travelled to Canterbury for Champs.

Beth Wilson and Alto et Audax, competing at last year’s champs

“It would be nice to win, but it would be even better if the team does well,” said Beth.  She is the only AI rider in her team, so posting a good score will be important to her. “I was going to take my one-star horse, but as I am the only AI rider, I am taking my good horse.

“I really enjoy the champs, it’s a great event. The tracks are of a good standard, and it is great fun.”

The main reason Beth incorporates the event into her busy calendar is so that she can get some team experience. “At the Olympics, you are in a team, and you don’t get many opportunities to get that experience in a team, except for pony club.”  And yes, Beth is aiming high, the Olympics are “in the plan!”

The Pony Club champs have proved good training grounds for plenty of New Zealand’s equestrian Olympians including previous champs title winners Kallista Field, Heelan Tompkins (who won three AI titles in a row) and show jumping’s Colin McIntosh and Maurice Beatson.

Heelan and Glengarrick were foot-perfect on cross-country at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and were the best-placed New Zealand combination in 12th place  (NZHP Library)

Another rider who will be notching up her fifth champs this year is 19-year-old Storm Harris. She and Jenny Bevege, another Champs veteran, will both be riding in the A1 section for the Waikato team, Storm on her trusty Irish Foxtrot.

Storm’s brother Clay is also on the Waikato team, which will be keen to add to its proud history at Champs. Waikato has won the teams trophy more than any other area – 12 times – followed by Taranaki (10) and Franklin-Thames Valley (9).

“I just love the champs, it’s my favourite event,” says Storm. “It’s the atmosphere, the team, and you get to meet so many people. The courses are always challenging too.”

It is a bit of a juggle for Storm to fit everything in, as she is in her second year at Waikato University where she is studying teaching.

Another AI rider entered in the class is the winner from 2016, Aiden Viviers, who is representing the host team, Wairarapa-Wellington.

Aiden Viviers on Giselle II, on the cross country at the 2016 champs in Canterbury

Last year’s MT (95cm) winner, Francesca Masfen, is heading also back to the champs but will be in the DC’s this year, again representing Auckland.

Francesca Masfen from the Auckland team won the MT Championship riding Kinnordy Gallilee in 2017, pictured here with some of her happy team mates!

Canterbury won the teams event last year, and have a strong line-up again this time. In 2017, the Cantabrians just pipped the 2016 winners, Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast, who are again making a big trek north to take part.

Joining from from the South Island are teams from Otago-Southland, and South Canterbury-North Otago. The other North Island teams taking part are Manawatu-West Coast, Taranaki, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay.


Winners of the teams event at the NZPCA Eventing Championships in 2017 was Canterbury!

It has been a huge amount of work for the organisers (who perhaps are questioning their sanity at this stage of the event), but they are all ready for the action to commence.

“We are all set for the Championships and just waiting now for all the teams to arrive,” says Anna Cardno, secretary for both the eventing and the mounted games championships. “The tracks out at Clareville are looking good – Chris Lever courses are typically smart and technical, with a good dollop of challenges to ensure we don’t just put on a dressage competition.

“The commitment to get here is huge and Wairarapa is looking forward to making it worth their while.”

Including the mounted games riders, 160 combinations are expected to take part over the five days.

“It’s all new and exciting to be running the [mounted games and eventing] championships together this year. We may be a little mad! But it will be great for the riders to witness some of what happens ‘on the other side’, as eventers don’t often get to see the games riders at work, and vice versa. It’s a week of celebrating some of the best of our equestrian sports, not just a single code.”

The eventing champs began in 1956, and has a fine history and some famous names amongst previous winners (see the full list below). Before he famously teamed up with Mark Todd and went on to be a double Olympic champion, Charisma won the Perpetual Challenge Cup for the best DC dressage score in 1980, and the Knox Thompson Perpetual Challenge Cup for AI Dressage in 1981 and 1982, ridden by Sharon Dearden as part of the Canterbury team. The Fife girls feature prominently, and Lynley’s daughter Loran Mathis has continued on the family tradition winning as well.

Loran Mathis – pictured here on Charlton Xplorer, has won both the AI and DC titles (Image: Take the Moment)

Current top performers in three-star classes who have won at Champs include Samantha Felton and Renee Faulkner who won the AI and DC trophies the same year – 2011.

The AI Cup is open to 17-25-year-olds, and is jumped over heights of 1.10cm. The Dorothy Campbell (‘DC’) Trophy for 16 and under, and is up to heights of 1.05cm. The Sir Mark Todd Challenge Trophy (‘MT’) was introduced in 2010, and is for 14 and under and with heights at 95cm.

The team with the four lowest penalty scores wins, but there must be at least one MT, one DC and one A1 score counted, plus the next lowest score from one of the three divisions.

All A1 and DC winners are listed below:

A1 Challenge Cup Winners DC Trophy Winners
1954: M.M. Meredith, Yoeman
1955: Ron Cropp, Vanity Fair
1956: J P Chambers, Harbour Light P Morris, Vanity Fair
1957: Judith Simons, View Halloo Joan Kelly, Tinker
1958: Susan Talbot, Limonite Diana Cunningham, Harvest Moon
1959: Beverley Reid, Chelsea Stuart Mitchell, Comet
1960: Leslie Dunn, Hollyport Kirsty McKenzie, Harmony
1961: Diana Cunningham, Harvest Moon Jennifer Dunn, Sari
1962: Diana Cunningham, Harvest Moon Kirsty McKenzie, Akbar
1963: Jennifer Dunn, Hollyport Jane Wilson, Sir Winston
1964: Diana Dunn, Young Blaze Anne Bartlett, Neptune
1965: Fraser Wilson, Rick Sharon Mills, Monte Carlo
1966: Annette Baxter, Delmont Lad Peter Gasson, Geronimo
1967: Annette Baxter, Delmont Lad Christine Hyland, Sir Winston
1968: Carol Harrison, Cavalcade Susan Coop, Gaiety
1969: Vaughan Wilson, Blue Jewel Maurice Beatson, Golden Cloud
1970: Paul Dooney, Student Prince Christine Hyland, Ali Baba
1971: Kaye Cottle, Echo Kathy Otto, Touche
1972: Alister Robertson, Spider Tony Harris, Dubonnet
1973: Alister Robertson, Spider Nicoli Fife, Mexico
1974: Joy Cooper, Renovate David Allardice, Zibib
1975: Jeanie Attrill, Safari Marie Wilson, Arakai Lad
1976: Deborah Potvine, Charlie Brown Lynley Fife, Tumbleweed
1977: Jenny Perkins, Troubadore Stephanie Millward, Kallista
1978: Warwick Graham, Joe 90 Lynley Fife, Tomalin
1979: Hamish Cameron, Lucky Chance Julie Finlayson, Shamrock
1980: Joanne Abram, Raszarda Julie Finlayson, Shamrock
1981: Joanne Abram, Raszarda Judith Charleston, High Rate
1982: Annabel Mossman, Kestrel Alenka Cross, Sarahn
1983: Robert George, The Entertainer Mandy Roberts, Eclipse
1984: Susan Tomlin, Jonathon Grace Jackie Cole, Callen Light
1985: Judith Charleston, High Rate Charlotte Young, Ryvaad
1986: Shelley Creelman, Fernleigh Lad Erica McNamara, Sarahn
1987: Wendy Buckett, Checkmate Emma Carr-Smith, Chateau
1988: Amanda Smale, John Henry Toni Murdoch, Brogan
1989: Rochelle Budden, Guess Julie Withers, Nikolas
1990: Geoffrey Jamieson, Envoy Julie Withers, Nikolas
1991: Virginia Loisel, Entrepreneur Katie Hallam, Mandalay
1992: Rachael Whitaker, Focus Kallista Field, Minuette
1993: Jaala Bolton, Wetherby Mr Micawber Carolyn Renall, Double Brown
1994: Claire Tompkins, Master Peace Karla Jamieson, Glengarrick
1995: Heelan Tompkins, Master Peace Edward Pattinson, Spykadelic
1996: Heelan Tompkins, Master Peace Edward Pattinson, Spykadelic
1997: Heelan Tompkins, Master Peace Harriet Wilson, Kung Fu Boy
1998: Rosie Haszard, Dayspring Anne Davies, Sarki
1999: Jean Tompkins, Arragato Andrew McIvor, Saxony
2000: Hillary McGregor, Malawi Kelly MacClure, Redhill
2001: Sarah Dalziel, Jandals Nicola Kahn, Flying Star
2002: Petra Eatson, Wallstreet Chloe Davidson, Redhill
2003: Hannah Gloyn, Fitterwochen Pippa Holdom, Ice Cold
2004: Amanda Bellerby, Benefactor Jacqui Dunn, Secret Kingdom
2005: Kelly Wells-MacClure, Flyway Carissa McGregor, Indian Rebel
2006: Juliet Wood, Just Joop Kirsty Bale, Thunder Mountain Little Ben
2007: Lydia Truesdale, Papillon Emma Cameron, Tiga-D-Boo
2008: Sarah Lauder, Telephonic Jemima Snook, Pinball Wizard
2009: Lauren Currie, Wishful Thinking Chloe Kennedy, Boots n All
2010: Courtney Newton, Arabian Nightlife Alex Clarke, Black Jazz
2011: Samantha Felton, Ricker Ridge Pica Boo Renee Faulkner, Boots n All
2012: Anna Hinton, Sexy B Loran Mathis, Flintoff
2013: Nicole Lansdown, Royalty Loran Mathis, Flintoff
2014: Loran Mathis, Flintoff Renee Faulkner, Rubinstar HH
2015: Jessie Fitzjohn, Whats the Buzz Ellysha Eastell, Voluminous
2016: Aiden Viviers, Giselle II Beth Wilson, Alto et Audax
2017: Gemma Hampson, Pintado Prima Rosa Meg Dempster, Pixie Caramel