Thursday, January 04, 2007

Graham, Harmon help NZ team overcome Australian challenge

by DAVID DAWKINS - The Marlborough Express | Thursday, 4 January 2007

Marlborough riders led the charge as New Zealand continued their dominance of Australia in the Trans-Tasman Endurance Riding Challenge held at Twynham near St Arnaud on Tuesday.

Helen Graham and her mount, affectionately known as Ricky, were a class above the competition winning the 120km junior ride which doubled as the South Island junior title ride. Fellow Marlburian Linda Harmon, riding Landon V-erah, completed the 120km senior event in Landon V-erah's first attempt at the distance.

The win saw New Zealand retain the title they defended in Australia in 2005. New Zealand also won the inaugural Trans-Tasman Challenge in 2004.

A 100 percent completion rate by the New Zealand team highlighted the Kiwi performance as the Aussies struggled to adapt to their borrowed mounts and the hard, stoney conditions. Only one senior and two junior Australian riders completed the event. Most were vetted out after the 100km mark with stone bruises and what New Zealand endurance team manager Del Bissell described as "minor lameness".

"They pushed a bit harder than we would have, but then we know the country a bit better," Bissell said. "We certainly rode more conservatively than they did."

Bissell put the Kiwis' success and remarkable completion rate down to good team management and good coaching.

"Everybody listened to what they had to do, especially the juniors, they were brilliant," she said.

The event doubled as the South Island championship where Kylie Avery continued her impressive run, riding Silands Jasark to victory in the senior 100km event on Monday. - article

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