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NDS Alfred's Tower Ride

FEI Emirates Endurance Worldwide Rankings Ride - August 24th 2002
Stourhead House, Wiltshire - Great Britain
A Ride report by Susie Cain

A new venue and excellent weather made the Bank Holiday NDS Equine 2002 Alfred's Tower, Wiltshire, ride an outstanding success.

The fields adjacent to Stourhead House were turned from cattle grazing and cow pats into an equestrian marquee village over the weekend. Susie Cain of NDS Equine said, "As sponsors we were delighted with the event. The six months of preparation meant that the weekend appeared to go with military precision and the organisation by the ride organisers John Hudson, Chairman of Endurance GB, his wife Jane, Mike Dando and the 90 volunteers made it a fun and safe weekend for all competitors".

The main attraction on Friday afternoon was the pre-ride vetting of the horses in the FEI 146km 3* event. The National Trust kindly allowed the 22 competitors to trot up in front of Stourhead House but "keep off the grass"! The FEI Ground Jury and the Veterinary panel turned out in their best bib and tucker and the watching crowd, which included some bemused members of the general public doing the tour of the house and gardens, applauded each horse as it was passed by the smartly dressed vets.

At 6.00 am on Saturday morning 22 riders set off on a testing 146km course. As the evening drew nearer an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the finish line at around 8.00 pm willing the 5 remaining horses to appear. With minutes to go before time was out Chris Hyde and Clipper appeared at the far end of the park and cantered over the winning line at 8.06 pm and a final neigh of relief was given when Clipper was passed fit in the final vetting. He won the Hewitt Trophy for First Place, the Finney Trophy for the highest placed Home Rider at a speed of 12.1kph and the Bartlett Best Condition Trophy on Sunday. Hoof in hoof an incredible achievement for both horse and rider who had not ridden more than 100km before!

The only other horse to complete the whole 146kms in time was Sarah Tyson's Armistice and three unlucky finishers passed the vetting but could not be placed as time ran out by the narrowest of margins.

The 105km ER Class 2 had ten finishers with Castlebar Treaty ridden by Meg Wade coming over the line first at a speed of 14.4 kph, closely followed by ZT Sharerouge ridden by Jackie Sheppard and Warrens Hill Chandra ridden by Mary Stubbs.

On Sunday the lorry park resembled an Ifor Williams trailer convention as 30 teams, of 4 riders in each, arrived for the Riding Club Championships together with competitors in the graded and set speed rides and Pleasure Riders. The Riding Club class has gone from strength to strength since its conception 5 years ago. As a team horses and riders follow a 34km course at an optimum speed of 11kph, with a maximum 100 points available for achieving the optimum time, with the best three scores to count and in the event of a tie, pulse rates are taken into account.

The 2002 winners were the Avagoers from Weston super Mare with 300 points and no penalties, with second place going to the Sussex Shooting Stars with 300 points and 6 penalties.

At the close of day on Sunday John Hudson looked absolutely shattered having only had about 10 hours sleep in 4 days but managed to retain humour and professionalism at the prize presentation. "I hope we will be able to persuade the National Trust to let the ride return to Stourhead next year and am delighted that NDS Equine wish to continue to sponsor the event. Thank you all for taking part." he said.

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