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Months of hard work . . . Cross-country course designer Richard Hardwick hopes riders competing in the Springston Trophy will rise to the challenges he has set in his course. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

The Springston Trophy – the biggest pony club event in the southern hemisphere – is about to begin.

Starting next Friday, 41 teams of six from across the South Island will congregate at Oamaru Racecourse when the North Otago Pony Club hosts the 47th annual Springston Trophy competition.

One of the many people at the pony club excited about the event is Richard Hardwick, the lead designer for the cross-country course riders and mounts will encounter in the second phase of the competition (the other phases are dressage and showjumping).

Hardwick first started working on the project in January, taking a month to come up with the design.

Over the months that followed, a loyal bunch of volunteers helped to build the course.

“We started off with one working bee a month for the first three months, and then we sort of ramped up,” Hardwick said.

“Since June-July, we tried to have a working bee each weekend to try to get it up to speed.”

The hardest part of the experience was trying to work around the recent spells of wet weather.

“We’ve had an absolutely shocking winter.

“On occasions out at the course, we’ve had four-wheel-drives stuck, which makes it pretty hard.”

Hardwick said he looked forward to seeing how the riders would find the course.

“The satisfaction I get out of it is actually watching the kids go around it.

“That’s pretty cool, actually, especially [seeing] the younger ones, because when they do the course, they’re always talking about it.”

The course is also likely to be used for one of the pony club’s other events in November.

Hardwick said the event was also a good opportunity to reunite with friends from across the country.

“It’s always good to catch up with them for a laugh.”

The Springston Trophy will run for three days, starting on October 5 and finishing on October 7.