The 2020 Munro Cup one-day carriage driving event was held on March 15 at Witwood, the dedicated carriage driving venue at Mulloon, between Bungendore and Braidwood.
It was a fun day for the 15 competitors, some local and others from south-east NSW, the Central West, and South Australia.
The Cup event is like a one-day horse trial without the jumps. The first phase is a cross-country course along lanes and tracks around Witwood, including timed and water obstacles. These obstacles are exciting to watch as the horses try for the fastest time through the marker posts.
The second phase is a speed and precision event where horses and ponies follow a numbered course, passing between cones without knocking them over or dislodging the balls on top. There are some spectacular runs to be seen!
Rosettes were won for the various divisions, and the beautiful Munro Cup was presented to the overall winner, Linden Barrey, from South Australia, with his Welsh pony, Cataraqui Magical Amulet.
This year's event was the last before the Australian Carriage Driving Society closed all carriage driving events under their umbrella due to health restrictions on sporting events. The drivers were fortunate to have a great weekend of driving before the stable door was closed!
John and Julie Munro, members of the then Bungendore & District Horse Drawn Vehicle Club, held the first Munro Cup on their property near Bungendore. The event has continued as a tradition at Witwood since the Munros retired and sold their property many years ago.
The Munros devised the system of 'share stewarding' which has been adopted nationwide, where competitors are divided into two groups - one driving in the morning and stewarding in the afternoon, and vice versa for the other group. Event stewards and helpers are always appreciated and welcome at Witwood.
The Willcoxsons at Witwood have conducted carriage driving events on their property for 25 years, and recently held a 25th Anniversary special carriage driving event. The property is specifically set up with dressage arenas and a marathon obstacle course, and the four-day Australian Carriage Driving Championships and the three-day NSW Carriage Driving Championships were recently held there.
Carriage driving can be as fun or competitive a family pastime as you wish to make it. Young drivers are encouraged to participate, as they will continue the sport into the future.
Team colours and horses and ponies from all breeds make combine driving events colourful to watch. Clothing for the dressage and cones events is often as it would have been in the old days.
Carriages vary from small joggers and sulkies (some antique) to purpose-built four-wheel vehicles with disc brakes, comfortable suspension designed for cross country events and speed through obstacles, and other modern additions.