Gundagai hosts carriage drivers for NSW championships
THE NSW Combined Driving Championships held at Gundagai attracted 48 entries across 18 classes.
Held at the racecourse and showgrounds on November 4 and 5, the event was run by the NSW branch of the Australian Carriage Driving Society with the support of the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.
It was a great setting for dressage and cone phases, with competitors also enjoying a 14km marathon course comprising 7km of local roads and tracks and 7km containing seven timed man-made obstacles.
A level three competition was held concurrently with the championships for combinations below championship standard, meaning experienced drivers with an inexperienced horse or pony and/or inexperienced drivers with an experienced horse or pony also got to compete on the weekend.
As more and more people are finding driving is a sport within their capabilities, the level three events are proving very popular.
Typical of this is the junior driver Amy Johnston, 14, and the Welsh Cob, Bonny.
Amy is from Leeton and her groom/backstepper and carriage driving mentor is her grandfather, Colin Adler from West Wyalong.
Amy started learning to drive and became a groom/backstepper for her "pop" about two years ago and since then, has progressed in leaps and bounds in her carriage driving.
She competed at the NSW Driven Dressage Championships at Carbery Estate last month, where she and Colin both entered separately and groomed for each other. Amy and Bonny finished second in the beginner driver section.
Across the classes at Gundagai, there were some well-known faces.
Showjumping and dressage identity Simon Kale from Foxground Training Stables at Kiama has taken up carriage driving in the past 12 months with his pinto show jumping horse Foxground Kioti.
They had a win in the marathon and placed second in the dressage, cones and marathon and second overall in the level three novice horse over 149cm class.
Simon and junior driver, Zoe Collier had a reciprocal arrangement as groom/backstepper for each other in their events.
Zoe, from Bungendore, and her Welsh Pony Dalpura Parasol (aka Paris) claimed second place overall in the novice pony over 124cm and not exceeding 149cm.
Zoe comes from a carriage-driving family with her grandparents, Dot and Doug Willcoxson, and mother, Jen Collier, all successful drivers.
Ross Carbery, from Carbery Estate at Mullengandra, drove his two home-bred horses Carbery Estate Ferrero and Carbery Estate Valentino to win the horse pair over 149cm class with his backstepper, Ian Scarborough, giving directions.
Matthew Marriot from the Murroka Clydesdale Stud was the winner of the championship novice horse over 149cm with his Dutch Harness Horse/Clydesdale cross Murroka Crackerjack. Matthew's groom/backstepper was his son, Tom Marriott.
The heavier horses are giving their drivers a lot of pleasure, with Alexander (Lex) Vickers and VF Justice, with Samantha Johnston on the backstep, placing third in the novice horse over 149cm class.
Trevor Brand and Nilton Calypso made short work of the cones course on their way to a win in the level 3 intermediate pony 91cm and not exceeding 124 cm.
They had a clean sweep in all three phases – first in dressage, cones and marathon, taking out overall first place in their level 3 intermediate pony class at the event.
(Click any image to expand)
All images LINDA MACE
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