Freestone rider Cora Becker on the way to victory in the Australian championship ride at the Al Reef and RM Williams Endurance Festival Ride.
Freestone rider Cora Becker on the way to victory in the Australian championship ride at the Al Reef and RM Williams Endurance Festival Ride. Sue Crockett

Golden performance

FREESTONE has the top endurance horse-and-rider combination in Australia following the success of Cora Becker and Bones the Wizard in the FEI 160km three-star Australian National Championship at the Al Reef and RM Williams Endurance Festival Ride.

Becker went to the Australian championships at Toorbul near Caboolture with one strapper, husband Laurie Woodruff, and won the major event in eight hours, 46.34 minutes.

She was in the lead group of seven throughout.

Becker was at a disadvantage against competitors with a larger numbers of strappers who could prepare their horse quicker in hold time for the five veterinary checks as required in a 160km event.

As the lead group went into the last veterinary check, some of the horses were fatigued and the riders had to wait until the heart beat of their horse was under 64 beats a minute to continue.

Bones the Wizard was in top condition and passed the fifth check with flying colours which meant Becker was in third place at the start of the final 17km leg.

She caught the two horse-and-rider combinations in front of her with 10km to go and then took a 200m lead before winning by a second.

Becker believed she had victory in the bag and kept cantering downhill towards the line when Victorian rider Kristie Taprell made a late gallop for the line.

“I didn’t see the need to race for the line in the slippery conditions,” Becker said.

“There was a lot of yelling and it was getting dark,” Becker said.

“Kristie tried to take me at the end and I only saw her coming on the line.”

The news was all good for Becker as she won by one second but admits she learnt a valuable lesson.

“My Dad said I should always be looking over my shoulder,” she said.

Becker and Bones the Wizard completed the final 17km at an average speed of 27.6 km/hr.

She was timed at 18.6km/hr for the whole ride.

The win was even more exciting for Becker as she bred the horse, broke him in and trained him to be a top endurance horse.

“He is the best I have had in eight years of endurance riding,” Becker said.

“I couldn’t do without the help of my husband Laurie,” she said.

Bones the Wizard is by Obi Rain Dance, a horse she rode to fourth in middleweight in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup at Nanango in 2008.

Becker and Obi Rain Dance won the middleweight division in the state championships the same year.

The next generation, daughter Anu Woodruff Becker, won her first junior ride at Tenterfield in May so the Freestone family has plenty to look forward to in the sport.



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