John Barrow's wife Deb wasn't confident in buying champagne ahead of the results for the one Tararua seat on Horizons Regional council and contender Andrew Day thought a court case had seen the end of his chances, while Lorraine Stephenson had gone bush.

Mr Barrow was seeking a third term as the Tararua councillor on Horizons, but was challenged by Mr Day from Pahiatua and Dannevirke dairy farmer Lorraine Stephenson.

And while Mr Barrow and Mr Day waited anxiously for the results to come through, Mrs Stephenson had packed her saddle bags late last week and was trekking into Cowboy Town in dense Raetihi bush. Not riding out until late Sunday, Mrs Stephenson told the Dannevirke News the trip had been organised well before the election campaign had begun.

And with 90 per cent of the votes counted, Deb Barrow needed that champagne after all, with her husband retaining his seat.

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Mr Barrow has taken the seat with 2998 votes, ahead of Pahiatua's Andrew Day on 1448 and Dannevirke's Lorraine Stephenson on 1263.

In 2013 Mr Day lost by 500 votes to Mr Barrow and this time he believes his chances were harmed by the challenge in the Environment Court to Horizons One Plan by Wellington Fish and Game and the Environmental Defence Society (EDS).

"The court stuff hasn't helped me at all," Mr Day said. "Most people haven't had time to look at the details of the court action, but if they'd had more time to assimilate it, things could have been different."