Wednesday, July 08, 2009

South Africa: Bad luck for Mark Tylee and Jenny Champion at Fauresmith


The Endurance New Zealand team of Mark Tylee, Jenny Champion, Helen Graham, Maxine Leary, Debby Worsfold and Kylie Avery headed off to South Africa on Monday 29th June for the National Champs in Fauresmith.

After the first day of competition at the South African National Endurance Champs, Fauresmith, Mark Tylee and Jenny Champion are both out of the competition.

The story through today is that Mark's horse was difficult to manage, the horse did not settle into the competition, biting both himself and one of the attending veterinarians, subsequently the horse was vetted out on heart rate.

Jenny Champion's horse unfortunately went lame.

On a positive note the other four riders, Kylie Avery, Debby Worsfold, Maxine Leary and Helen Graham are still in the competition where they will be going into their second day of competition very soon.

Helen Bray reports on the ride:

For some, the beginning of the trip was a challenge.

The group that left from Wellington Mark,Jenny,Tina had no problems through Sydney and on to South Africa. For those leaving through Christchurh it was not so easy.

The Christchurch flight was cancelled 5min before departure. We were rebooked through Singapore, giving Debby Worsfold ,Kylie Avery ,Helen Graham ,Helen Bray,and Philip Graham, an extra 5 hours in CHCH a 11hr flight to Singapore 8hrs in Singapore waiting for their 11hr flight to South Africa.We made it in the end. We met up with the rest of the party Tuesday morning, Travelling 2hrs to where the Australian team were staying, for lunch and a game park tour. We then travelled 500km north west to our host families. The team is being hosted by members of the North Western area Endurance club.

The host families also are supplying our horses. The family I was with, farm 5000hect of flat, Kalahari sand country in a semi-arid area, getting 16inch rainfall. Their farm is stocked with 400 beef cows and 75 horses. Stock are run in 100 hectare paddocks, horses and cattle run together. All stock work is done on young endurance horses.The country is covered by little grass and low scrub.

The next afternoon, we took in a visit to a game park with a variety of wildlife. It had a large number of fenced 2hect pen's for lions,and leopards. Some great photos were taken.

We left for Fauresmitm the next day, travelling Southeast 600kms in convoy with the horse truck, caravan and support vehicles. We passed through the Kimberley diamond mining area and saw some amazing African vistas.

The ride base is at Fauresmith, a town of 1000 people. It is about 1500m above sea level, sandy, stoney country. The ride has been at the same venue for 35 years. It is the S.A. National Champs, 200kms over 3 days. There are 3 loops each day, with 2 out post vet checks. 411 entries so far. The ride has been won in the past with speeds of around 25km.

Today we have travelled 120km North to Bloemfontain for some sightseeing and retail therapy. It is warmer, clear sunny days, almost tee-shirt weather, but the nights are cold.

Training rides and horse preparation take up the next 2 days. A parade is held on Monday morning prior to pre ride vetting. The ride begins at 7am Tuesday, 7 July, local time.

The team is being hosted in local homes, 5mins from base. Their hospitality and that of our horse hosts is incredible.

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