Aussies ready for raid >>

Aussies ready for raid >>

If you ask the Aussies they’ll tell you there’s a raid about to happen... an Aussie raid of the senior Trans Tasman competition at next month’s Kihikihi International Horse Trial.

History is on the side of the Kiwis – the team for which will be named after the 2012 NZ Horse of the Year Show – with 10 wins from 13 clashes. However, Prue Barrett, the Australian national performance director for eventing and chef d’equipe for the team, says they’re not turning up to lose.

She’s heard plenty from those who have competed at the high-ranking event over the years. “I know (course designer) John Nicholson is Andrew’s brother and that he builds a mean cross country course... is there more I should know?” she says with a chuckle.

And she’s named a strong team to cross the ditch for the all-important senior Trans Tasman teams’ competition. “We never come over to lose,” says Barrett. “History shows the Trans Tasman is always a tough competition and neither New Zealand or Australia ever looks to be beaten by the other.”

Riding for Australia in the event will be Christine Bates on Delago, Katja Weimann on BP Gallantry, Natalie Blundell on Algebra and Shane Rose on Taurus.

Rose and Taurus were fourth last year, with his countryman Chris Burton and Holstein Park Leilani second behind New Zealand’s World Champs team bronze medallist and 2011 FEI World Cup Series winner Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express.

But the Aussies have done well at Kihikihi in past years, with Megan Jones and the lovely Kirby Park Irish Jester taking the title in 2010 and 2009. “Shane is very familiar with Kihikihi,” says Barrett, “and he’s very keen to come over and take the prize.”

Riders are also looking to impress Australian Olympic selectors, although the event is not on the official selection criteria. “The Aussie team door is still wide open and with 11 combinations on our elite squad and another 14 on the A squad, there is plenty of competition for the five available spots.”

Barrett says there is a lot to go under the bridge before they name their team on June 20. "I couldn’t be happier with where we are at now though,” she says.

Barrett says the beauty of the Kihikihi International is that it is a chance for those combinations, who may not have extensive international experience, to get their first shot at a team jersey.

“This is a competition we take very seriously – it will be tough and it is always a big and good test. We’d like to think this is our year,” says Barrett.

“This is an event I am really looking forward to – I have been to New Zealand a couple of times but never to Kihikihi. It is going to be awesome.”

Photo Right: Prue Barrett

Date Added: Thursday, 8th March 2012