Toft saddles up for world games

Ipswich’s Australia Day sports award winner Alexandra Toft hopes to compete at the equestrian World Endurance Championships in Kentucky this year.
Ipswich’s Australia Day sports award winner Alexandra Toft hopes to compete at the equestrian World Endurance Championships in Kentucky this year. Sarah Keayes

WITH Alexandra Toft’s world junior ranking now at number three, she has turned her attention to qualifying for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky this year.

The 14-year-old Toft, who said she was “very excited” to have won the Australia Day sports award for Ipswich, excelled in her debut World Youth and Junior Endurance Championships in Hungary last year with a 17th placing in the gruelling 120km event.

The next World Youth and Junior Endurance Championships are in the Middle East in 2011 but the World Endurance Championships, for seniors, is part of the program in Kentucky.

Toft, who lives at Marburg, said she had to compete and excel in as many 160km events as possible to qualify for the world titles.

The senior competition is held over a longer distance than what she has been used to and she stressed the need to respect her horse as a key to success.

“It does get tough sometimes but you’ve just got to keep going. If you look after your horse, then your horse will look after you,” she said.

Favourite horse Bremervale Justice is 18 and was ridden by Toft’s parents Peter and Penny on several world championship campaigns. He still has some more rides left in him but Toft is looking to the future too.

“Justice has probably got more frequent flyer points than most humans. He is planning to do a few more rides but I’ve started bringing up some younger horses,” she said.

“I’m training them and hopefully I’ll be able to turn them into champions.”

Toft will resume competitive riding at the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) event at Fernvale next month

“I’ll be riding a young horse and hoping to qualify her for bigger events,” Toft said.

“I’ll only be doing 80km. Because it is the first ride of the season, we start at smaller distances and work our way up.

“Endurance is very different (to show events) because there are such long hours you have to train the horse to get them to do the distance.”

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