Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Zealand: Champion seeking endurance hat-trick

By Gary Caffell

Eketahuna horsewoman Jenny Champion is seeking a hat-trick of victories in the 160km ride at the national endurance riding championships at Whareama tomorrow.

Champion and her part-Arab mare Freckles tasted success at Hawarden in mid-Canterbury in 2006 and Kurow in North Otago last year and they will be amongst the more favoured combinations again.

Not a big horse, Freckles should be suited by the Whareama course which does contain

some hills but is mainly flat in nature.

However, if she is to chalk up win number three she will probably need to finish well inside last year's winning time of 10hrs 43mins 13secs.

"The course is fast and should suit us but when you have that many kilometres to cover you don't take anything for granted," Champion said.

"It's very much down to the day, you can never be too confident."

As it happens one of Champion's main rivals is likely to be her partner Shane Dougan, who is president of the host club, the Wairarapa Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Club. He will be riding Taralea Sheer Illusion.

Look too for big efforts from last year's runner-up Mark Tylee on Class Act and Murray Smith on Glenmore Toyboy.

The three-star 160km ride actually gets under way at 1am tomorrow morning with the 30-plus participants being guided through the darkness by fluorescent markers and by the wearing of head lamps.

One-star and two-star championship events will be ridden over shorter distances on Saturday and Sunday.

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