L-R, Helen Graham, Lucy Allomes, Ashley Cole, Ursula Keenan, Susan Latta, Adena Middleton.

Southern Hemisphere endurance is about to be lifted to a whole new level with the inaugural 2024 Endurafest Australasian Championships and there’s a strong New Zealand team lining up.

Riders Lucy Allomes (Canterbury), Ashley Cole (Coromandel), Helen Graham (South Canterbury), Susan Latta (Otago) and reserve Adena Middleton (Canterbury), with chef d’equipe Ursula Keenan are on the ground in Queensland and ready to compete in the FEI CEIO1* 100km race on Friday.

Today (Wednesday) the Kiwi riders met their borrowed mounts with the pre-race vetting on Thursday. The championships sees teams from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, China and Japan go head-to-head chasing down top honours. All but hosts Australia will be on borrowed horses.

Ursula has long been an advocate for riders gaining exposure to international competition and is grateful for the vision of the event organisers in creating a competition of this calibre.  and says the new event will be of huge benefit to all. Ursula has high aspirations for her team which she describes as “sound and strong with huge experience”.

Ashley is the current Australian national 160km champion, while Susan represented New Zealand at the 2014 World Championships in France, Lucy was the 160km national junior champion last season and runner-up in 2024, and Helen was runner-up in the 2023 160km national champs, is the South Island 1* champ and recently ran a 100km ultra marathon.

The results of the top three combinations count towards the team score. Reserve Adena is the 2023 2* 120km national champion. “The level of competition and track will be technical. This will be a welcomed challenge to our riders.  Ursula said it was a big job for riders to understand and develop a partnership with their borrowed horses in just three days before the competition.

The 100km will be run over three loops and start at 6am for cooler temperatures. There’s even the likelihood of a little rain. “We need our teams to be completing events, not just starting in them,” she said. “This is a good  opportunity to be doing that. A win is always an honour with a strong focus on a 100% team completion.”

The final event of the weekend will be the Bremervale Justice Challenge, which will include all successful combinations from Friday’s championship event.  The Challenge will cover rider equitation with points from recovery times on Friday along with vet scores from the Sunday inspection. Supporting the New Zealand riders will be crew members Ben Allomes, Nadine Barker, Tosca Bell, Helen Bray, Jolene Cole, Kelly Duncan, Phillip Graham, Pip McLelland, Isla Mutch and Michelle Soper.

The event is the brainchild of the Oz Endurance Club. “I would love to see this continue,” says Ursula. “It is a great initiative.” She was hugely appreciative of those who had so kindly prepared horses for the event and said the biggest priority for the riders and crews will be giving those horses back to their owners in the best possible condition.

WHEN: May 30 – June 2, 2024
WHERE: Inglewood, Queensland, Australia
MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/ozenduranceqinc

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison