Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Australia: Victoria's First Endurance Ride Post-Influenza

Press Release
Tonimbuk Gold Cup Inc

Melbourne, Victoria, 14/3/08

Contact Person: Helen Ward
Company Name: Tonimbuk Gold Cup Inc

Telephone: 0438 59 4285

Email: hiward@bigpond.com

Victorian endurance riders give course the thumbs up

Riders and organisers have hailed Victoria's first endurance ride following Australia's crippling equine influenza outbreak a raging success largely due to the fantastic course.

The 80 km ride which forms part of the 2009 Tom Quilty course commenced at Yarrabubba Reserve, Nar Nar Goon (about 1 hour south east of Melbourne) and traversed roads and tracks throughout the picturesque countryside of the Bunyip State Park and surrounds.

Without exception, riders gave the course the thumbs up. Equal first in the middleweight division, Meg Wade from Castlebar Arabian Endurance Horses rated the track as great. "Much of the course passed through bush providing cover and shade for horses and riders. It was well marked, checkpoints well placed and good under foot," she said.

Jennifer Green from Flying Circus Endurance Horses agreed. "The course was horse and rider friendly. It provided a variety of terrain, it was safe with wide trails and all weather surfaces under foot."

Event organiser, Lissy Verity was delighted with the response and turnout. "It was a great start to the 2008 endurance riding season. Over 50 riders competed. They were given the choice to compete in the 80 km or 40 km ride and it worked out at about 50/50," she said. "There were several first timers which was great to see, but the vast majority of entries were from experienced riders just keen to get back into it.

Crossing the line first in the Lightweight Division with line honors was Belinda Kolek riding Colhaven Zaheera (4hrs.26min), second was Amily Daw on China Doll (4hrs.44min) and third was Shandal Bengtsson riding Kedarona Kliche (5hrs.34min). Amily also took out the Best Conditioned award.

Meg Wade on Castlebar Balik and James Sheehan riding Woodbourne Edmund took out the Middleweight Division in equal first place completing the course in 4hrs.28 min. Asher Batty on Tierview Maverick placed third in 4hrs.44min.

The Heavyweight Division saw Ken Bradley on Phoenix Park Epona placed first (5hrs.02), Martin Mizzi riding Sutket Farm Damareef second (5hrs.20min) and Carl Adamson on Bowzatus third (5hrs.40min).

Budding 12 year old endurance rider Nikita VerspannDonk stole the show. "On her first 40 km ride she rode the whole way bareback," said Ms Verity. Not surprisingly Nikita received the Tonimbuk Gold Cup Inc Encouragement award.

The majority or horses vetted through despite the hot, dry conditions on the day; a testament to the courage, ability and stamina of the horses, the majority of which were Arabian, and the skill and strategy of the rider.

"Many used this event as a training ride following the recent layoff," said seasoned endurance rider, Bob Punicki from Brieema Endurance Arabians. "The course was not to hard and not to easy. It provided an opportunity for horses that were not 100 per cent fit to compete on a good course that offered variety, was good under foot with minimum bitumen and plenty of shade."

There was a really good vibe at this ride according to Jennifer Green. "Everyone seemed delighted to be back doing what we love, whether that be riding, strapping, TPRing, vetting or doing one of the other 101 tasks essential for a successful ride," she said. "It was so good to catch up with everyone after such a long lay off, to just stand around talking horse with old friends and new ones too."

It was then time to head home and reflect, not only on the results but also on the entire experience. And in particular on our wonderful horses whose stamina, beauty and character are unequalled.

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