After an exciting final day of jumping at the Mitsubishi Motors Australian International 3 Day EvenHazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford were crowned the winners – their second victory at the CCI**** event.
The Southern Hemisphere’s only top-level eventing competition made history as it was the first time a combination had won the event for the second time and it was the first time that there has been an all-female top ten at this level of competition.
Katie Taliana took an early lead after the dressage scoring 31 penalties. Katie previously worked for Zara Tindall and purchased Trevalgar II whilst based in the UK before bringing him back to Australia. She commented: “He is amazing, he is such a good boy and will do anything I ask of him. He’s been a bit tricky over the last 12 months, but he was back to his normal self today.”
Emma Bishop sat in second place with a score of 31.5 on CP Issey Miyake, at her first four-star event for ten years. Lauren Brown went into the cross country in third place with 32.3 penalties on Skys Da Limit.
Mike Etherington-Smith’s CCI four-star cross-country course asked many questions for the field of 24 horses and riders that started the cross-country phase of the event today, with many not having the answers and seeing them exiting the competition with elimination.
In an extremely rare occurrence, after finishing in bottom place yesterday, Emily Gray on her 14-year old bay gelding Jocular Vision’ moved up 24 spots to initial top of the leader board with Sonja Johnson sat in second place.
But after several queries from riders, the ground jury have reviewed the official on-course cameras and made some alterations to the scores which had an effect on the leader board. Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding moved in to first place on 47.2 penalty points after having 50 penalties for being judged to have missed a flag removed. They were initially judged to have gone outside the flag at Fence 9C (a brush corner). Second placed Hazel Shannon was also given the same penalty at the same fence but this was also removed.
Leader Pottinger commented: “What I didn’t realise when I got home was that I was only the second to actually to get through the finish flags. It was not forgiving and you had to work hard. I am over the moon to get through the finish flags – it was not our prettiest round and not everything went to plan but we made it home. It was carnage out there. He is just such an honest little horse. I said yesterday that I didn’t care about the dressage because I knew it would be totally irrelevant. I didn’t think it would cause this much carnage but I knew it would be tough.”
The removal of 50 penalties from the leading riders moved Gray into third position – a leap of 21 positions up the leader board. Once the reviews had taken place, only three riders finished the day with no jumping penalties with 12 riders left in the field. Dressage leader Katie Taliana was one of the nine riders eliminated.
The competition came down to the final two top places going into the jumping, with Amanda Pottinger holding first place after cross country battling it out with Hazel Shannon in second place.
Shannon and Clifford jumped first and had two rails to finish on a score of 59.5 penalties.
The pressure was then on Amanda riding her 12-year-old thoroughbred gelding Just Kidding, who unfortunately took down four rails adding 16 penalties to her score, taking her to a final of 63.2 penalties and dropping down to second place.
Shannon said of her win: “It feels great, as good as the first time, I’m still in disbelief. Willingapark Clifford performs best when he’s fresh, and he loves Adelaide. I’m not sure about next year, figuring out what is best for him, it’s important to keep him happy, sound and healthy.”
Third place went to Western Australian rider Sonja Johnson riding Misty Isle Valentino finishing on 78.8 penalties.
Photographs courtesy of Julie Wilson photography