This morning began with riders spread over 6 horse stations (about 250 km). With some of the toughest legs to ride and some of the feistiest horses this was always going to be a big day.
We had two early retirements with Per Michanek and Anna Christina De Jonquieres throwing in the towel.
Mid-afternoon saw another dropout, the previously unshakeable Amy Wallace-Whelan who was thrown from her horse on leg 17. It quickly became apparent that the horses at this particular Urtuu were eating something more than Weetabix for their morning feed.
While most riders fall at some point during the derby it seemed for many this point would be from HS16. The leg was all the more challenging for the high pass to be crossed. A couple of the fiesty stallions also broke free and decided to run home.
This upset helped to further split a massively spread course and the decision was made to hold the race in the interest of rider safety and horse welfare. Any riders reaching HS22 or HS18 were to be stopped until close of play to allow the tail to catch up.
The impromptu halt at HS22 meant the front runners could catch some well deserved rest while the medical crew and veterinary crews could be redeployed. Although HS23 is the preferred penalty station it was decided to bring this forward to HS22 to avoid further detaining the front runners.
Tomorrow morning the lead will be staggered to allow for time credits. Brent, Barbara and Bonnie are all due to serve penalties. Brent by two hours as a vet penalty, the girls for one hour due to outside assistance in finding their horses.
The start times tomorrow from HS22 will be as follows:
1) 7am Sam Jones
2) + 0.50 Robert Skinner
3) + 1.00 Jamie Peel / Chris Maude
5) + 2.50 Brent Albuino
6) + 3.10 Bonnie Hutton / Barbara Smith
8) + 3.40 Catherine Stott
9) + 4.40 Mary Lee
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