Tomorrow, New Zealand's rural sports stars are being celebrated and among them will be Taupō equestrian Briar Burnett-Grant.

The 18-year-old has been nominated for Fonterra NZ Rural Youth of the Year at the 2019 Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards, being held in Palmerston North tomorrow.

Burnett-Grant started riding horses when she was 7 and now, at age 18, she is a rising star in New Zealand's equestrian world.

She has won the 2018 Olympic Cup, the Premier League Series, and a World Cup event, and was placed in the top three in the 2018-19 FEI World Cup Series. She has now set her sights on the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games.

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The finalists are leaders in both traditional rural sports such as shearing, fencing, wool handling and dog trials, and newer sports like gumboot throwing, cowboy action shooting and treeclimbing.

"The range of rural sports represented in this year's nominations is extraordinary, and I love the fact we're honouring people from young athletes just starting to make their mark to the lifetime achievers and those who work away in the background to make sure our rural sports can happen," New Zealand Rural Sports Awards judging panel chairman Sir Brian Lochore said.

The judging panel is chaired by former All Blacks captain and World Cup winning coach Lochore, who is also a founding board member of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust.

The other judges are rural sports icon and president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic rowing medalist Nathan Twaddle, fencing legend Paul van Beers, Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and respected agricultural journalists Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins and Tony Leggett.

The awards dinner is being held on Friday, March 8, at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where nominees and winners will be competing.

Rural Sports Awards Nominees

Norwood NZ Rural Sportsman of the Year

Tony Bouskill (Fencing – Napier), Kieran Fowler (Gumboot Throwing – Dunedin), James Kilpatrick (Tree Climbing – Tauranga).

Skellerup NZ Rural Sportswoman of the Year
Nicky Ward-Allen (Tree Climbing – Eltham), Pagan Karauria (Wool Handling – Alexandra), Bex Baynes (Sheep Dog Trials – Wairoa).

Fonterra NZ Rural Youth of the Year
Briar Burnett-Grant (Equestrian – Taupō), Bradley McDowell (Cowboy Action Shooting – Whanganui), Sheree Tomlinson (Harness Racing – Canterbury).

Levno Contribution to Rural Sport
David James (NZ Arb – Blenheim), Neil Sidwell (Shearing – Waiwera), Nick Liefting (Fencing – Pukekohe).

Toyota Lifetime Legacy
Ricky May (Harness Racing – Ashburton), Hugh McCarroll (Shearing – Whangamata), Maurice Beatson (Equestrian – Dannevirke)

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