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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Classes at capacity as 500 riders tackle spring event

ABOVE: Del Ogilvy and Honourdale on their way to a win. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG PHOTOGRAPHY

WERRIBEE Park hosted its second big horse trials in less than a month and coped admirably, with 500 horses competing in several classes.

There are few more experienced riders than Del Ogilvy, who proves that age really is just a number after notching up another win on the weekend.

Her equestrienne career spans more than four decades.

She competed in England in 1992 and was first emergency for the Australian Barcelona Olympic Eventing Team. She has produced several top-level horses since.

At 63 and a recent survivor of breast cancer, Del seems unstoppable. Her current mount, Honourdale, winner of a one-star level class at Werribee, leading from the dressage phase on, shows the high level of training Del has given him. He’s progressed steadily up through the grades during the season.

She is full of praise for the horse she shares in ownership with dressage judge Moya Jess.

“It’s easy to forget that he started competing just in February this year and at the Friends of Werribee Park event two weeks ago he told me he’s now ready to step up to one star,” Del said.

“Laying the correct foundation is so important and even more so with young horses. It’s easy to think that because they perform well it’s time go up a level but without a good foundation and a confident, happy horse it’s so easy to burst the bubble before you know it.”

Apart from the traditional groupings of classes, two added sections attracted attention, one for off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTT) just entering the sport and one for “People on Ponies” (POP).

ABOVE: Alexah Robinson and Harleys Blue Moonshine. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

The OTT class over 65cm fences was won by Regina Knobel riding Hillview Park Black Flash, while the more experienced Thoroughbreds also had a one-star section for themselves, won by Jo Watson’s Ziggy Gold Dust.

In the popular People on Ponies section that attracted a full field of 30 starters, Alexah Robinson’s Arabian pony Harleys Blue Moonshine won a close-fought competition with just two penalties between the first three placegetters.

The ponies certainly jumped well with all bar three jumping clear in showjumping and cross country and no doubt they will be set for bigger courses in the coming months.

More and more riders are enjoying horse trials as a sport, with four at-capacity sections in the EA80cm sections filled with young horses. Winners were La'Moza Velisha and Masculino (OTT), Ben Tyson on Michelangelo, Jack Palfreyman and Counterfire (OTT) and Yona Lloyd’s Mischief Managed To Day.

The 95cm section was the same, with four divisions. Werribee’s inviting and solid cross-country courses meant that you needed a good dressage score to be in the placings.

Chris Height and Lucky Contender were second after dressage, Georgina Birrell and Grimstrand (OTT) and Edward Darby’s Odins Day led from start to finish and only Lilly Mcgregor riding Nawarrah Littlemissunshine made up ground from seventh in her section to win.

Leesa Clausing and Willtony Garnett won the FEI two-star class, 18-year-old Molly Lines, riding Tadpole, was only just old enough to ride at the Melbourne International three-day event in the two-star class this year and starred. They followed it up with a win this weekend in the three-star, 10 points ahead of Sam Jeffree riding Wimborne Conjuror.

Teegan Ashby’s Magic Mushroom TAE (OTT) was leading after showjumping, but a mistake on cross country cost them dearly and they finished 12th.

In the four-star class, Kirilee Hosier and AEA Flynn also followed up solid Melbourne International form to take out the win.

ABOVE: Molly Lines and Tadpole tackle the three-star course. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

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