Saturday, August 05, 2006

Kiwi contingent eyes World Games success



August 4
The New Zealand team for WEG comprises six eventers, five endurance horses, one show jumper, and a vaulter. The cost of sending horses to Europe from New Zealand is so prohibitive that riders are not selected unless they are deemed competitive. As a result, a number of riders base themselves overseas to gain experience and measure themselves against international competition.

Endurance:

Having won team gold in Dubai in 1998 when the horses' costs were met by the organizers, endurance has been fired with determination to compete internationally ever since, and not just across the Tasman in Australia, where the Tom Quilty Ride is the gold standard.

Paulette Stannard battled to fund her horse, Zephyr, to The Hague in 1994, to compete as an individual, the first New Zealand-based Kiwi to have competed outside of Australasia. She entered the stadium in bronze medal position, but was vetted out, having twice been sent the wrong way, and covering extra distance as a result.

Zephyr was fine next morning, and bought by an American family who invited Paulette to go with the horse and settle him in. Following her showing at The Hague, Paulette was sure it was worth having a WEG team in the future, convinced the horses were up to it.

The other Kiwi competitor at WEG that year was Australian based Howard Harris, who is a member of this year's team. At 60 years old, he is vastly experienced, having competed internationally since 1988. His horse, Harmere Turfan, a 12-year-old old home-bred Arabian gelding, placed second in the Tom Quilty Ride earlier this year. Howard and his horse traveled to Christchurch in the South Island to meet up with the rest of the team before flying out to Germany on July 24.

Brian Tiffen, a 47-year-old farmer from Fairlie in the South Island, who was the best performing Kiwi in the extremely wet weather at Jerez four years ago, will be hoping for better conditions at Aachen this year. Tiffen, who started endurance riding as a teenager, was a member of the NZ team at the endurance world championships in Dubai last year on his team horse Sonny, a 13-year-old home-bred Anglo-Arab.

Shane Dougan, a 55-year-old farmer from Eketahuna in the North Island, played polo-crosse prior to taking up endurance. He holds the NZ record over 160 kilometres, riding his 10-year-old Arabian stallion Vigar Riffal, on which he was a member of the winning Trans-Tasman team in Australia last year.

Philip Graham, a 51-year-old farmer from Cheviot in the South Island, was also a member of the same Trans-Tasman. His 11-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding, Wolfgang Amadeus, is a consistent performer, bred by the late Leo Nisbett.

The rookie in the team is 20-year-old Kylie Avery, from Marlborough, who has been competing in open company for three years. She was a member of the 2004 NZ Trans-Tasman team, and was runner-up for the 2006 Horse and Rider of the Year. Her horse, Silands Jasark, a nine-year-old part-Arab stallion, was also bred by Leo Nisbett.
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