Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Zealand: Testing race ahead for NZ endurance riders at world games

http://nz.sports.yahoo.com/news/article/-/7994361/testing-race-ahead-nz-endurance-riders-world-games
NZPA - September 22, 2010, 4:35 pm

New Zealand's three endurance riders are ramping up preparations ahead of the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, United States, which start at the weekend.

Jenny Chandler, Alison Higgins and Debby Worsfold will be the first New Zealanders in action when they line up for the vet check with their horses on Sunday (NZT), followed by their 160km race on Monday.

The team have been based on a farm not far from the Kentucky Equestrian Park in Lexington, but will move in to their official stables on Saturday.

Endurance chef d'equipe Madonna Harris said she had confidence in her trio of riders, who had prepared well.

"Of all the disciplines, this really is the toughest," she said. "Throughout the race we present to the vets seven times."

At any stage in the race, if a horse's heartbeat does not come down fast enough or there is a niggle of any sort, a combination can be pulled.

And with just three in the New Zealand team, there is no room for error. All three combinations must finish the race to have a chance in the team category. About 130 combinations are expected to make the start line.

"Everyone is wired," Harris said.

"There are flags, banners and general mayhem going on - our riders just need to find an area and remain calm. As good as these riders are, they are completely inexperienced at this level, so it is a big ask for all."

New Zealand's eventing horses arrived from Europe today and riders Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Caroline Powell and Jonathan Paget have all flown in to join teammate Clarke Johnstone, who arrived with the Australian team earlier this week.

The eventing starts on October 1 (NZT).

Katie McVean is the only showjumper already settled in Lexington, with the rest due to arrive next week.

The showjumping starts on October 5, with the Games finishing on October 11.
It is the first time they have been held outside of Europe and more than 800 riders from about 60 countries are competing.