Ride summary from Jay Randall:
The Sample & Partners FEI*** 160km ride and the Nanango Forest FEI** 107km ride (incorporating the Trans Tasman Challenge) has been run and won!
We arrived at the ride base on Wednesday morning, into miserably wet and cold conditions. Luckily we had the ideal campsite, and were able to fend off the rain and remain dry, if not warm. By Thursday the Nanango Showgrounds was looking quite full, and by Friday morning the rest of the competitors fronted up. The facilities were excellent: hot showers, power, great catering, a good PA system, etc....
The weather cleared by Thursday afternoon, although it was still very cold on Friday. Saturday (ride day) dawned a little warmer, and I thought we ended up having perfect riding weather throughout the entire ride. The track was a little soft in patches, but overall was ideal. The away Vet Gate was cancelled due to the conditions, which made the crewing even easier for all of us poor strappers! Indeed, we used minimal water throughout the ride, as the horses were all pretty well taken care of by my wonderful riders on track!
There were 44 starters in the 160km ride and 64 starters in the 107km ride.
The Splendacrest Team (incorporating Alwyn Torrenbeek's 2 horses for the weekend) started 3 horses in the 160km ride, and 4 horses in the 107km ride. We were also responsible for 1 horse in the 160km ride and 1 in the 107km ride ridden by the Kiwi team in the Trans Tasman Challenge, making a total of 9 horses all up in our camp.
Our 160km riders were Alwyn on his strong mare Mary Anne, Yukinobi Horiyuchi on Alwyn's gelding Pardon, and Yuko Kimoto on the beautiful Bullarto Fiorelli. New Zealand young rider Kimberley Ryan rode Splendacrest Dryad in the NZ Team competition.
Poor Yuko had an incident in the third phase of the ride when Fiorelli ended up going through a barbed-wire fence and was subsequently floated back to the ride base. As the mare was badly scratched up, that was the end of the ride for this pairing. Alwyn and Yukinobi both completed successfully, in a riding time of 14:50.
I was extremely proud of Kimberley, who successfully guided Dryad around the 160km in a riding time of 12:33, for 6th Youth placing. Both Kim and her strapper/mother Lisa Ryan were very happy with this result, and Dryad looked excellent the whole way! Kim was the only rider in the NZ 160km team to complete the ride, making the victory even sweeter for me!!!!
Our 107km riders were Tarni Kittle on Raaward Chanelle (owned by Zoe Gardner), Amanda Powell on Shonavale Kamilla (owned by Shane Hopkins), Noriko Hasegawa on Splendacrest Perfection (owned by Shane Hopkins), and John Dugan on his mare Quick & Easy.
Due to a mix up in timing, Noriko had to depart on the final leg of the 107km ride in the dark by herself, and was extremely brave in doing so! However disaster struck when she firstly became lost in the unfamilar dark conditions, and then had a fall with the horse deciding that he knew the way back to ride base and wasn't waiting for his rider! Both horse and rider were found safe but sorry, and we had to withdraw them on course. But Perfection passed the Vet Check with flying colours, and will enjoy his next ride very soon! Noriko was also fine, with a small graze on her cheek to show for her adventures.
Tarni rode the majority of the 107km with Joyce Corbett (THANKS JOYCE!), and was successful in taking out the 2nd Youth placing in a time of 5:42. Raaward Chanelle looked great throughout the ride, and recovered very well after each phase.
Amanda also had a very successful ride, taking out 4th Youth placing in a time of 6:18, and then placing 2nd in the Best Conditioned competition. This mare, Shonavale Kamilla, is just going from strength to strength this year!
John Dugan placed 15th in the Open Division in 6:39, for another good result on his big mare Quick & Easy. She looked great throughout the ride, taking care of both herself and John (who is still recovering from a bad injury to his knee last year).
We were also very lucky to have the New Zealand youth rider in the 107km team, Jordan Piripi, in our camp throughout the weekend, as she was on Joyce Corbett's mare Murland Park Mikhala. Jordan didn't have a very good introduction to Mikhala to begin with, however she persevered and eventually was successful in completing the 107km ride well. Congratulations to both Jordan and her groom, Chris.
The King of Malaysia was in the 160km ride, and the security was pretty intense every time he was around! There were plenty of dark suits, sunglasses and stony stares, however in general the atmosphere around the King was fairly laid-back and relaxed. I was fortunate to see him come in off the final phase of the ride, and I can tell you that he was pretty tired! He rode one of Brook Sample's horses (actually I think the horse belonged to Leigh Ann Sample!), and the Royal Stables trainer, Paul Brown, accompanied him throughout the ride on another of Brook's horses. Both were successful.
I was amused to see the King walking back to his camp after weighing in on the final leg. He was a little shaky on the pins, and eventually just collapsed onto the ground (to the great consternation of his minders) in exhaustion. But he was so obviously happy to complete (and qualify!) that he just brushed off all help, and righted himself.
Another high point for me personally was to meet one of my Malaysian internet friends, Amir, and his wife Nadia. I was very pleased to finally put a face to the name and the interesting conversations we have had by email. Both also completed their rides, and both were headed home very tired!
So, now to the thank yous: This ride would not have been made possible without the vision and sponsorship of Matthew Sample of Sample & Partners. Matthew also announced that he hoped to make the Sample & Partners FEI Series an annual event in Queensland, which was greeted with much enthusiasm!
But it was Barb Timms who put in the majority of the work in order to get this ride under way. Barb has worked tirelessly for the sport of endurance riding in Australia for more years than we all can count (!), and the success of this ride is just another notch in her belt. Thank you Barb!
Barb rounded up an incredible amount of support in the way of the volunteers who assisted in getting this ride going, including Margie Lee Madigan and Scott Madigan, Colleen Shaw, Lesley Nancarrow, Nev Badman, the Sandy Ridges Rural Fire Brigade, the Nanango SES, and a host of other people holding down the jobs of time keeping, secretariat duties, computer operations, weighing, pencilling, communications, horse rescue, farrier, etc.
The FEI Ground Jury was highly visible and extremely helpful, and consisted of Irene Malone, Ieva Peters, Denise Trollope, Sarah Adams, Ron Guest, Kerry Spratt, Ady McIntosh, and all the way from England, Pauline Dickie. Toby Crockett was the TD, and Allan Renner was the CS.
The Veterinary Commission was just an eye-opening gathering of the best Vets!!! Dr Brian Sheahan headed up a crew consisting of Anne Barnes, Pat Hodgetts, Jon Fearnley, Kathy Webb, Prof Chris Pollitt, Judy Law, and international Vets Andre Bereznnowski from Poland and Len Beach from England.
It was an absolute pleasure to see Dr Len Beach again, as I had originally met him at a ride in France last year, and had invited him at that time to come to Australia to participate in this ride. He bought his wife, Pauline Dickie along, and the two of them worked extremely hard over the weekend to assist with the smooth operation of this ride.
I must thank Jenny Bidner, who gave up her weekend to come and strap for our team, as well as Beck Forgan and Gerard Bou (both Splendacrest riders) who also came along to watch and learn. Thanks guys! And a final thanks to Shane Hopkins, who safely drove all my beautiful horses there and back. Thanks, Shane!
Now we are all looking forward to the Spring Mountain ride in two weeks. See you all there!!
SPLENDACREST ENDURANCE TRAINING