Australia’s top Eventing athletes have Olympic selection firmly on their minds as they line up for the Adelaide International 3 Day Event, which kicks off tomorrow (November 20).
The event, which also marks the second leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016 series, has attracted a 34 strong field including four Australian Olympic medallists – Stuart Tinney, Shane Rose, Sonja Johnson and Megan Jones.
The Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games course designer Mike Etherington-Smith (GBR), who has signed on at Adelaide for the next three years and is also advisor to Equestrian Australia’s Eventing High Performance programme, will be ensuring the cross country is a good test for those aspiring to fly to Rio.
Also in the field to contest the southern hemisphere’s only four star event is Britian’s Alice Dunsdon, who has flown Fernhill Present to Adelaide in her quest to compete in all six FEI Classics™.
“After I completed Luhmühlen with Hilly, my third four-star, I wondered if anyone had done all six with the same horse, and if not why not,” says Alice. “Wouldn’t it be great if we were the first to do it! Adelaide will be four-star number five, with Badminton a history-making sixth next year.”
New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone, team bronze medallist at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010, has also made the trip, and New South Wales-based rider and trainer, Christine Bates, who has narrowly missed out on FEI World Equestrian Games™ and Olympic selection, has a very good horse in the 2015 Saddleworld Melbourne International CCI3* 2015 winner, Adelaide Hill, and is a strong favourite in Adelaide.
Other hopefuls are all previous winners. Sydney Olympic team gold medallist Stuart Tinney has resisted the call of the Northern Hemisphere, but has nonetheless regularly received team call-ups. He has three rides this year in Pluto Mio, who finished 11th at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, Annapurna who was second in the Adelaide International 3 Day Event CCI2* in 2013, and War Hawk, second in the 2015 Melbourne CCI3*. After a gap year, Shane Rose is back with the Jumping-bred pair, CP Qualified by Quiet Capitol and Virgil by Vivant.
Beijing 2008 team silver medallist Sonja Johnson is riding her athletic former racehorse, Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison that just missed a 2014 Games call-up due to a minor injury, whilst local girl Megan Jones will ride Kirby Park Allofasudden by Rustic Amber that has been very lightly campaigned since taking second place last year. Katja Weimann of Victoria is also determined to make an impression on the Olympic selectors with her home-bred, BP Flamboyant, second in the Melbourne CCI3*.
Jessica Manson, who won the FEI Classics™ at Adelaide last year, and Will Enzinger, who broke his leg just before Adelaide in 2013 and handed Chris Burton his winning ride, are back this year with two rides, Wenlock Aquifer and Britannia MVNZ, completing a stellar Adelaide line-up.
The Adelaide International 3 Day Event is the second event in the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016 calendar. The six event series started with Les 4 Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* and finished next autumn with the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Last year’s series winner was Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, The series leader after one event is France’s Astier Nicolas but with five events to go the series is wide open.
The action from Adelaide is available to view live on FEI TV – www.fei.org.
Sarah Carless Reporter at Large