Friday, December 29, 2006

Harmon to ride for NZ against Aussies

by DAVID DAWKINS - The Marlborough Express | Friday, 29 December 2006

Trans-Tasman rivalry will be at its fiercest in the new year when New Zealand's top endurance riders, including Marlborough's Linda Harmon, take on their Australian counterparts at Twynham Farm near St Arnaud.

Harmon, riding Landon V-erah, is a member of the four strong senior team that will face the Aussies in the CEI three star 120km ride on Tuesday.

Fellow Marlburian Helen Graham will compete in the junior team that races over the same distance while Kimberly Ryan is a reserve for the team.

For Harmon it will be her first chance to compete in the New Zealand team. She was named as a reserve last year against the Australians and rode as an individual then had to pull out of the team's trip to Spain after her horse pulled up lame.

While she describes the Australians as a bit of an unknown quantity she is determined to retain the title New Zealand won in Australia last year.

"We really have to thrash those Aussies," she said.

The Australians will be at the disadvantage of riding borrowed horses for the race, something Harmon hopes will give the Kiwis an edge.

""When you've got your own horse you know its little ways," she said.

"You know when to push them and when not to."

Landon V-erah, or Abbey for short, is a young horse at seven years old and the 120km ride will be the longest she's ever tackled.

"I'll guess we'll see what she's got under the bonnet," Harmon said.

The riders will be faced with a variety of conditions from open flats, to rolling hills, steep forestry blocks and clay tracks through native bush. However, it is nothing new to Harmon who has tackled the course on numerous occasions before.

With the Marlborough summer finally heating up Harmon is hoping temperatures and the humidity stay on the low side.

On hot days strappers become especially important, as Harmon explained.

"If you don't have a strapper you are too busy looking after your horse and not yourself."

Harmon's husband Malcolm is set to take on the strapper's duty this weekend something Harmon is pleased about.

"Its great, it means I can yell at him," she laughed.

The meeting will also double as the South Island Endurance champs with Marlborough's Kylie Avery riding in the CEI two star 100km on Monday.

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