Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Zealand: Record smashed at Endurance champs

full article at Stuff.co.nz

photo: RUNNER UP: Masterton-based Jenny Champion, riding Freckles, finished second at the National Endurance Championships held in Wairarapa at Easter.
The New Zealand record for a 160-kilometre (or "hundred miler") endurance horse race was broken at the Mitavite National Endurance Championships held in Wairarapa at Easter.

Mark Tylee of Owhango in the central North Island, riding his 12-year-old part-Arab mare Class Act, smashed the previous New Zealand record for a one-day 160km endurance ride by a considerable margin, completing the distance in eight hours, 24 minutes and 37 seconds - an average speed of more than 19 kilometres per hour.

Tylee's victory in the three-star event was Tylee's third national championship win, and the 20th 160km ride he has successfully completed, a remarkable tally for a rider who is only 25 years old.

Tylee was chased hard by Wairarapa rider Jenny Champion, riding her 13-year-old Arab mare Freckles, who had won the national title from Tylee the previous year.

Champion had caught up with Tylee on the final 20km loop of the six-loop ride, and the pair covered much of the final loop at a gallop, averaging nearly 25kph. However after Champion's mount slipped about 8km from home she felt the horse was not able to sustain the pace, allowing Tylee to regain his lead, and he finished six minutes ahead of Champion.

Young South Island rider Kylie Avery won the two-star 120km championship ride in just under six hours on her part-Arab stallion Silands Jasark, while the junior 120km title went to Michael Wakeling riding Delahaye Finali, cruising to victory 45 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

The one-star 107km ride was won by Anita Lamb riding Bushlands Dees Pride, while the junior title went to Vanessa Tiffen, riding Gazzah.

A total of 94 horse and rider combinations from around New Zealand took part in the weekend championships, which was based at Whareama, east of Masterton, and took riders across rolling and flat Wairarapa farmland.

Competitors enjoyed three days of perfect sunshine over the Easter weekend, and their night loops of the ride (The 160km and 120km rides began at 1am and 3am respectively) were made easier by the light of the full moon.

Shane Dougan, President of Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club, which hosted the championships, said the level of competitiveness of horses and riders was the highest in many years.

"It is fantastic to see so many top riders and horses performing at their peak. In the three-star ride we had at least a dozen competitors still in the leading bunch nearly to the end - we haven't seen such a competitive field in a championship event for many years."

The relatively flat track and good conditions underfoot also meant a high proportion of horses successfully completed the course, and contributed to the record-beating ride times, with nine riders in the 160km ride finishing in less than nine hours, Dougan said.

"It was a fast track but it was also a challenging one - and it certainly made for some exciting competition."

Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club is grateful for the support of Wairarapa landowners who allowed the course to go through their properties, the local community, and the generosity of sponsors, especially major sponsors Mitavite, Trust House and Tuff Rock.

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