National Carriage Driving Championships

7th-9th April 2007 - Wandin Park   

Results:  Dressage, Marathon, Cones, Summary,  Club Teams, State Teams, Grading

    Photos: here

Whilst many were anticipating lots of chocolate Easter Eggs, carriage drivers from around Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand were about to put months of training and preparation into action by competing in the Australian Carriage Driving Championships at Wandin.

With the weather gods smiling down from above, drivers, grooms, horses and ponies and vehicles were elegant, sleek and polished as they performed their dressage tests on the Saturday. With a hint of music in the background, the various combinations were put through their paces with judges Sheryl Leibowitz (NSW), Barbara Thomas (WA) and Cynthia Doherty (VIC) presiding over the Open/Multiples arena and Christine Turnbull and Alison Graves (both VIC) the Novice arena. Some competitors chose to participate in the Special Presentation class as well which was ably judged by Lorraine Bilson.

With a 10.30 start for the Marathon on Sunday, competitors had plenty of time to review their plan of attack as to how they would be driving the course, in particular the obstacles designed by Peter Harkness. Wandin is well known for its hills and the course proved to be a challenging one as combinations moved between the eight obstacles. Spectators had a couple of excellent viewing areas with the course laid out below them.

Andrew Pollock broke a spring on his vehicle at MO3 but was able to complete the course. Rachel Haslau had a close encounter with the wine bottles. Karen Rogers got caught up on a post in the Windmill obstacle but was freed by groom, husband Mark. Ross Nankivell did a ‘break and enter’ in the Huts after placing the pole of his vehicle through the door before safely backing out and continuing. The spectacular quarry witnessed  a few hair-raising moments as it appeared that the slightest move in the wrong direction may have seen several vehicles toppling into the water.

The last competitor of the day, Win Westerhoff unfortunately had his horse team bolt back to camp from MO8 where the vehicle tipped as the horses turned a corner. Win and his grooms were taken to hospital to be checked over with one groom found to have a broken collarbone and wrist. The horses were bruised and shaken and cared for by fellow competitors but were fine the next day. At the end of the day several competitors had been eliminated or vetted out. After the rigors of the Marathon, it was time to sit down to a catered dinner and enjoy catching up with old friends and make new ones. An auction of goods donated by sponsors and others was held with many happy bidders making their way to bed.

The weather gods continued to favour the event on Monday as competitors walked the cones course designed by Trevor Leibowitz. The course required drivers to work closely with their equine partners to display the skill and responsiveness of the horses and ponies.

 Winners of the various classes at the end of the Championships were Vicki Stevenson, Benjamin Rosetta (NSW), Tony James (NSW), Rhiannon Damsma, Andrew Pollock, Yvonne Weal (NZ), Margaret Bowen, Karen Rogers and Rachel Haslau.

Special award winners were: Junior Driver – Ben Rosetta, WP&COA – Best Performed Welsh – Di Boardman’s Glynyarra Park Black Rose driven by Rhiannon Damsma, Best Overall Novice Pony – Ashley, driven by Ben Rosetta, Hackney Breeders Trophy – Ellmore Liberty driven by Brendan Dwyer, Best Overall Multiple – Converse & Reebock driven by Margaret Bowen, State Team – Victoria 1 – Andrew Pollock, Nicole Allen and Rachel Haslau, State Novice Team – Victoria 1 - Vicki Stevenson, Jody McKeone and Paula Rhodes, Club Team – Oaklands A – Andrew Pollock, Peter Hennel and Madeleine Bentley, 


Concours d’elegance – Multiples – Ahab & Eric, driver - Lorraine Cairns, Concours d’elegance – Singles – Cherrytree Bananas ‘n Cream, driver - Sue Waters, Special Presentation Award – Duckponds Swagman driven by Madeleine Bentley

Thanks must be given to our generous sponsors: Spotlight Stores Zilco, Domaine Chandon, Shibumi Carriage Driving Centre, Tip Top Bakeries, KT & GD Grivell, Australian Carriage Driving Centre, Starbus Film Services, Kohnke’s Own, Staysound – Equisure, Horsepower, Clearwind Honey, Country Vet Store, R & N Harness, Bellarine Harness for Pleasure Club, Carriage Horse Driving Trials Club, Central Highlands Pleasure Harness Club, Euroa Silver Horseshoes Harness Club, Gippsland Pleasure Harness Society, Mornington Peninsula Pleasure Harness Club, Oaklands Horse & Driving Club and Southern Cross Harness Club. 

John and Angela Anker deserve special mention for providing a venue and facilities truly worthy of Australian Championship status. John is always supportive of carriage driving and made himself available to fix any problems, small or large that surfaced over the weekend.

Thanks must also be given to the organising committee of the event and special mention and our sincere thanks is given to those who volunteered their time over the weekend to be stewards, pencillers and a wide range of other very necessary jobs, without you the event cannot be run. We hope the competitors, family and friends enjoyed a spectacular three days of carriage driving!