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2008 South Island Championships
2007 HOY

2009 South Island Championships
Images by Sandie MacLean

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Editorial & Photos by Sandie MacLean

Arriving in Fairlie revealed just how parched and dry the normally picturesque and green countryside has become in recent weeks resulting from an unusually hot summer. The Mackenzie Endurance Club hosted the event with club rides on Friday which began the weekend of Endurance, setting the scene for what was an eventful weekend.

The 80km ride saw two riders unseated with one able to start. Not so lucky the other rider fell from a rearing horse that landed and rolled which saw her sustain two broken hips and a collarbone. Compounding environment and climatic conditions caused most of the over-time eliminations during the day despite an extended maximum ride time.

On Saturday the CEI3*160km event began with the riders aware of the challenges from the previous day. Various factors contributed to a small field of starters which set out in pursuit of the highly acclaimed 160km South Island Champion. Of nine starters, five completed with the balance vetting out lame most likely due to the concussive hard ground.

The ride started in darkness with most of the field in close proximity of each other, vetting within minutes of arrival at the vet-gate. The ride was over six loops with a maximum ride time of 16 hours, ample time in the cooler weather conditions presented on the day.

Vanessa Tiffen and Astek Laurelea

By the end of the first two loops, lameness had taken Kevin James (Glendaar Iraklis) and Linda Harmon (Landon V’erah) out of the running with Jenny Rouse (Rosewood Ardashir) vetting out Loop 4. The saddest vet out was Phillip Graham and Wolfgang Amadeus at the end of 160km after the horse had taken a fall during the ride. This very successful combination had previously been selected for the WEC 2008 in Malaysia and prior to that competed in WEG 2006 in Aachen.

With these combinations out it only left five horses however there was no shortage of competition with 1st and 2nd places hotly contested between friends and stablemates, Vanessa Tiffen riding Astek Laurelea and Debbie Worsfold riding Northwinds Bradley McGregor. Both horses were a real credit to owner Christine King and they looked fantastic throughout the day. They ran together the entire race easily out-pacing Diami’d ridden by Maxine Leary in loop 6 as the temperature was rising.

Debbie Worlsforld and Northwinds Bradley McGregor

The finish line crowd were eagerly anticipating the end of this race with much speculation and excitement as to how they would fight out the finish. The two came up the chute, neck and neck with the 8 year old mare, Astek Laurelea taking fright near the line, not to miss an opportunity Worsfold taking a leap of acceleration over the line for 1st place honours. Everyone laughed and cheered for both riders and both King’s horses – a fitting name for the day. The winning ride time was 11:10:16 with Astek Laurelea was awarded the highly coveted Best Conditioned Award.

3rd was Leary followed several hours later by Helen Bray riding Sherwood Ayshah for 4th and 5th to Teresa Hoult riding SS Kaleb bred by Gerzanne Arabians.

The CEI*100km and CEIJY*100km had equally as many exciting and tough moments for all involved especially after a gallop finish which determined first over the line Larry Ross (Blue El Jasper) vetting out lame leaving second over the line the winner, an ecstatic Robyn Marshall riding Debby Worsfold’s Stone River Reflections in a time of 7:06:12

Just over 22 minutes later the next two horses vying for second place came galloping in, with the crowd fully warmed up and very vocal. Like history repeating Kevin Brosnahan (Malton Lydia) crossed the line first but then vetted out leaving Kevin Prangley and the exotic 11 year old Arabian Stallion, WD Amir Ibn Kaliph securing second placing in 7:28:25

20 minutes later Paula Humphries riding SS Shadrak came cantering triumphantly over the line placing 3rd and Best Conditioned despite being 42 minutes behind the winner.

Running concurrently was the CEIJY*100km. In the winning time of 7:28:22 Krista Officer and Sunny Brae Antonia ran a lovely ride with excellent heartrates, easily winning Best Conditioned. This ride was the largest over the weekend giving a boost to the youth, of the 11 riders 4 came from Australia.

2nd easily went to Astiana Trouland riding Shardan Jordy followed for 3rd by Brooke Candy riding Sollan. Riding borrowed horse Delights Antar, Nicole Scannell placed 4th with stablemate, Zaandel NZL owned and trained by Holly Farm ably ridden by the highest placed Australian rider, Zeke Verspaandonk, coming 5th.

BTR Symphony with Alice Prangley placed 6th just before Australian Ingrid Ambroiussen on CD Proud Mary bred by Butch Hagar.

The next two Australian riders, came in placing a credible 8th and 9th riding Holly Farm’s Reilly NZL with Tabitha Verspaandonk and Karim NZL with Nikita Verspaandonk. The other two riders had vetted out lame earlier.

Kylie Avery and Silands Mia Bella

Another 100km event was on Sunday with no Championship status but entries were minimal. The main event of the day was the CEI2*120km. Sadly all entries in the CEIJY2*120km vetted out lame such was the demise of many over the whole event.

Seasoned combination Kylie Avery and Silands Mia Bella left the field for dead easily finishing in a time of 7:41:06 over two hours ahead of second placed North Islander Jaki Bickerton with Morroccan Fyre. Uncontested for Best Conditioned Silands Mia Bella also won this award. Fortunately Avery had achieved glory and escaped the sweltering heatwave that ensued. Two riders were overcome with heat-stress, withdrewing on course. Some more lameness vet-outs left Maxine Leary on Velvet Fire 3rd and Alex Lothian 4th.

The weekend came to a close with some blood, sweat and tears being shed – happier than sad ones just solidifying the reality and levelling aspect our sport. It takes true dedication to continue on in the face of disappointment and a humble competitor to embrace friends and rivals in the spirit of fierce competition and maintain the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. This was an event of extremes and highlighted the exceptional qualities of the awe-inspiring athletes – our horses.