The endurance trans-Tasman event is back in action this year after a five-year hiatus. This time, it’s the Australians’ turn to host the event, which will take place in Imbil, Queensland at the purpose-built endurance facility of Stirling’s Crossing, from August 17 to 20.
An enthusiastic, all-female Kiwi team have been named: Amanda McConachy from Raetihi, from the the Central North Island, Vanessa Tiffen from Fairlie, Canterbury, Tess Wells from Okaramio, Marlborough and Ana Whitehead from Tinui, Masterton.
Each will be riding a borrowed horse over the distance they are selected for. Vanessa, Tess and Ana are all competing in the 85km FEI1* ride on August 18, while Amanda will compete in the 120km FEI2* event on August 19.
The team will leave for Australia tomorrow (August 16) with chef d’equipe Kelly Haywood, and their own grooms. They will have a day and a half to get to know their mounts before the start of the 85km competition at 5am on Friday.
Endurance riding is a technical sport, with riders requiring a sound knowledge of their horse, its welfare, fitness and ability to complete the ride comfortably. Horses must pass strict fitness and veterinary examinations in order to continue. Rides start early in the morning, so part of the race is ridden in darkness which, while having the advantage of being cooler, adds its own obvious challenges.
The trans-Tasman event is designed to provide a stepping-stone into international competition without the extremes of world championship events.
The original concept was to hold the event every two years, so that each country hosted it every four years, but the decision was taken not to hold it in WEG or World Champs years. The plan now is to keep the competition going, with the next possible event in New Zealand in 2019.
This year’s has received a good support from both sides of the Tasman. The endurance board has set aside some funding and team members have received great backing from fellow endurance members and local business in their areas, who have provided sponsorship in the form of prizes to raffle off. Bullio Arabians have kindly donated trophies for each member of both teams, and are also sponsoring the entry fees for the two teams.