Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tasmania: Sassafras today, tomorrow the worlds

The Advocated - advocate.com.au
BY MARTIN AGATYN
18/07/2008 12:00:00 AM
A WORLD CUP qualifying event at Sassafras tomorrow has attracted international endurance riders to one of the biggest equestrian events in Tasmania in years.

The 160km ride is a Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) three-star event and has attracted entries from Malaysia, New South Wales and Queensland.

The ride is being conducted by the Burnie Equine Endurance Riders club (BEER) and will be the first time a world cup qualifying event has been held in Tasmania and the first FEI-rated event to be held in Tasmania for more than three years.

The ride will be based at Smith and Others Rd at Sassafras and will use tracks on nearby pine and eucalypt plantations.

The gruelling ride will be one where physical stamina and the mental fitness of both horses and riders will be pushed to their limits.

The endurance event will start at 2am tomorrow and riders will need to complete the six legs in under 12 hours and 20 minutes, finishing by 5.20pm (including compulsory hold and vetting periods), to qualify for the world cup, which will be staged in Malaysia in September.

The six legs will vary from 20km to 30km in length and riders will be given a maximum of 15 hours to complete all six legs.

Queensland's Peter Toft is expected to be a strong contender and will be looking for more success in Tasmania.

Toft won the sport's most prestigious national event, the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, when it was held in Tasmania in 2001.

A strong Tasmanian contingent of riders is also expected to compete, including Lilydale trio Noel Lockhart, Alison Dent, and Bradley Hill.

A youth section will be incorporated for riders between 14 and 21 years old.

As leader of the Tasmanian junior points series, Bradley Hill is keen to ride his horse Lockleigh Park Star against national competitors.

Alison Dent and Noel Lockhart will also be hoping for a good result.

About 30 Tasmanian riders are expected to contest the shorter 80km, 40km and 20km non-qualifier events, in addition to the entry list of 20 riders for the 160km endurance ride.
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