Orange endurance rider Ben Hudson says he and his beloved steed Oso Cap Braveheart will relish the experience of representing Australia at next week’s Federation Equestrian International World Endurance Championships, in Slovakia.
Hudson, just 23, was named in the five-strong Australian squad after winning his second consecutive Australian Championships at Imbil in July, he clocked just over 10 hours on the little but big-spirited Arabian stallion to do so.
Only three seconds separated Hudson and runner-up Kaylea Maher.
For the confused, or unfamiliar, endurance riding is exactly as it sounds – riders and their mounts navigate their way around the very long, often gruelling courses in a bid to clock the fastest time they can.
“That is one good thing about the sport though, there’s the competitive riders who go hard and ride in about 10 or 11 hours but there’s also a lot of people riding for the challenge,” Hudson explained.
“I was pleased to get that win at the nationals. That race was last chance [to impress selectors] before they named the Australian team, it’s pretty exciting to get picked.”
Hudson said he’s champing at the bit to hit the ground running at the WECs after being forced to withdraw his horse from the World Equestrian Games two years ago thanks to a late injury in the lead up.
As a result, he’s had Oso Cap Braveheart wrapped in cotton wool since he was named to head to Slovakia.
“He’s actually already over there, they flew him to England and then he went to Slovakia from there,” Hudson said, just a couple of days before flying out himself.
The reigning Tom Quilty Gold Cup – one of the biggest 160km endurance events worldwide – admitted because of Oso Cap Braveheart’s relative inexperience he hasn’t set a win or a podium finish as a personal goal, he’s more focused on helping his team potentially medal.
He’ll ride alongside Sasha Laws-King (on Oso Edith), Rebecca Pinder (Safwa), Jodie Salinas (Koela De La Dour) and Alexandra Toft (Dream Dancer te) in the Australia side, Penny Toft is the reserve rider.
“He’s a very young horse and I’m still only 23 too, so we’ve got plenty of years left,” Hudson said.
“I haven’t really though too much about an individual win or placing, I’d love to do that and we’ll give it everything but I think a team medal is probably more realistic.”
Hudson is originally from Mudgee but moved to Orange not long ago to chase a career working with horses.
“I did an apprenticeship out in the mines at Mudgee but moved over here when the opportunity came up to work with horses,” Hudson said.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time so far in Orange, it’s great here.”
The WECs kick off on Friday, September 16 and run until Sunday, September 18 (AEST).