BY MARTIN AGATYN
22/07/2008 9:56:00 AM
A COASTAL-BRED horse which won a world cup qualifying equine endurance event at Sassafras on Saturday has attracted international interest, with buyers willing to pay a six-figure sum to acquire the mare.
UNDER OFFER: Tony Purton, of Takone, and Beer Street Tiger Lily cross the finish of the 160km ride at Sassafras. Picture: Matt Bennet www.mattbennet.com
Beer Street Tiger Lily, ridden by her owner and breeder Tony Purton, of Takone, won the Federation Equestre International (FEI) three-star 160km event against an international field, and has attracted interest from the Middle East, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
The field for the Sassafras event included world No1 ranked male endurance rider Yousef Ahmed Al Bloushi, from the United Arab Emirates.
Despite the event being a world cup qualifier, Purton said he would not compete in the world cup in Malaysia in September.
"I've got no doubt she would do well over there, but it's an expensive trip," he said.
Purton said Australian endurance horses were considered among the best in the world and were highly sought after, and in particular horses from Tasmania.
He is still undecided on whether or not to sell his champion nine-year-old mare.
"I've bred her parents and grandparents here at Takone and I hate selling any of my horses," he said.
Purton said Australian endurance horses took several years of training to perform at the elite level.
"You just don't breed them, you have to train them and build them up to become good endurance horses," he said.
Purton said cashed-up Arab buyers in particular, who were unable to breed and train endurance horses in the Middle East, were in the market for ready-made Australian endurance horses.
The world cup qualifying time for Saturday's Burnie Equine Endurance Riders organised event was 12 hours and 20 minutes, with Puton's mare completing the six-leg event in eight hours and 17 minutes.
Lilydale rider Sonia Brown kept pace with Purton for much of the 160km and was only three minutes behind with 10 km to go.
Second place was taken out by Penny Toft, from Queensland, riding Electra BBP Murdoch.
Toft had qualified for the world cup at a previous ride in Queensland, but still completed the Sassafras event in 8:40 hours.
Junior rider Bridget Nottle, riding one of the Toft endurance horses, Kitt, also completed the ride in 8:40.
Third place was Malaysian rider Faizal Ismail, riding Alpine Ripplin Waters, in a time of 11:23 hours, followed by fellow Malaysian Sjn Zulkefli Saari, riding RCM Shatman, in 11:24, also qualifying for the world cup in their home country.
The final three places went to three local riders, with only eight horses completing the event.
A total of 12 were vetted out and one withdrew.
Carolyn Foley, of Staverton, riding Valley Park My Solitaire, finished in a time of 11:52 hours, followed by Sonia Hodgetts, of Elliott, riding Millennium Star, in a time of 13:13, and Kaye Mitchell, of Wynyard, riding Krystal Creek Karisma, finishing in 13:30 hours.
The high rate of attrition was attributed to the concussive effect of the gravel roads on which a large part of the event was conducted.
The Australian Endurance Riders Association also conducted 80km, 40km and 20km rides in conjunction with the FEI event, attracting a field of 48 riders.
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