Merriwa Pony Club hosts inaugural tetrathlon with competitors from Denman, Gunnedah, Mt Sugarloaf, Mudgee, Garah Boomi, Rylstone and Coolah

MERRIWA Pony Club hosted its inaugural tetrathlon last month and the entries were “overwhelming”, according to president Clare Martin.

“As this was our first event, we were hoping for 15, maybe 20, entries to get us started,” she said.

“We have never run an event of this nature before, so it was all new to us.

“We are very familiar with running horse events but we weren’t sure how we would go with the other elements.

“I had to sit down when our secretary advised we had received 45 entries from pony clubs all across the state.”

Fortunately, the Merriwa Pony Club is used to pulling together to put on a good show.

Riders and athletes from as far afield as Denman, Gunnedah, Mt Sugarloaf, Mudgee, Garah Boomi, Rylstone and Coolah joined Zone 7 riders to run, ride, shoot and swim their way through the day.

It all began at the picturesque Merriwa Racecourse Recreational Reserve with the pony club organisers delighted to host their first event on the new cross country course designed by international eventer John Cooper and built by local former eventer Bryce Hockings.

First on the course were the youngest riders – the Pee Wees (U7) and Minis (7-U10) who were super keen to get through all the jumps under time.

Angus McLean from Denman took out top honours in the boys while, for the girls, Amber Thomas of Coolah, Zara Nugent (Denman), Georgia Maben and Kirra Green of Merriwa finished neck and neck.

In the older age groups, Bree McKenzie (Rylstone), Flynn Baggett (Mudgee), Taylor Sutler (Mt Sugarloaf), Edwina and Sebastian Irwin (Denman) made light work of what proved a challenging cross country course for many riders.

Meanwhile, on the inside of the racetrack, runners took to the undulating 1km, 2km and 3km track with some blistering times recorded by Darcy Taaffe (Merriwa), Amber Thomas (Coolah), Flynn Baggett (Mudgee) and Genevieve van Rensburg (Mt Sugarloaf).

After a quick lunch break, athletes made their way back to the Merriwa Showground for the next phase of the competition, the laser shooting which was managed by former UK tetrathlete Rachel Nugent.

It was all about girl power in the shooting with Gabby Johnston (Singleton), van Rensburg and Taaffe taking the most targets while juniors Quill Osborne and Ben Patterson (Merriwa) were stand outs in the boys.

For the final phase, athletes took to the Merriwa Pool with van Rensburg once again delivering just in front of local “mermaid” Nicole Martin (Merriwa).

Charlotte Craig (Gunnedah) and Thomas brought home the bacon in the sub junior girls while Baggett and Ned Thompson (Coolah) triumphed in the boys.

Overall winners were Sebastian Irwin (Denman) and Gabby Johnston (Singleton) in the seniors, Nick Morgan (Merriwa) and Genevieve van Rensburg (Mt Sugarloaf) in the juniors, Flynn Baggett (Mudgee) and Darcy Taaffe (Merriwa) in the sub juniors, Ben Patterson (Merriwa) and Amber Thomas (Coolah) in the minis and Quill Osborne (Merriwa) in the pee wees.

President Clare Martin thanked the competitors, parents and volunteers, especially Rachel Nugent and Bryce Hockings, for their invaluable support making the inaugural Merriwa Tetrathlon a great success.