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  • Writer's pictureTy Manning

Guardian of the dressage gate always ready with a kind word

ABOVE: Les Limpus is a familiar face at the Adelaide Equestrian Festival. Picture: TY MANNING

EACH year at the Adelaide Equestrian Festival, as the riders enter the dressage arena for the start of their test, Les Limpus is there with his hunting pink and black bowler to salute them and wish them a final good luck.


“I enjoy being a part of the circus of it all and I look forward to it each and every year,” he says.


Les has been a stalwart supporter of the event since its early days when it was known as the Adelaide International Horse trials. Originally, Les coordinated the show jumping phase.


“When I decided to step down from organising the show jumping, Judy Whyntie, the dressage coordinator, asked if I would take on the role of gate marshal for the dressage and I have been greeting riders at the start of their dressage phase for the past 10 years.”


Les says that he always likes to “wish them good luck at the commencement of their test” and he makes a special point of addressing each rider by their first name.


“At the conclusion of their test, I always try to find something to compliment the riders on as they leave the arena – the judge’s job is to criticise them! I like to find something positive to focus on as they walk out.”


Sometimes, Les recalls, that is not always easy.


 “I remember one year Seamus Marwood hadn’t had the best of tests and as he was making his way to the gate, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. When he left the competition arena I simply said, ‘That wasn’t too bad mate.’ 


“Seamus simply smirked a bit and replied, ‘Les, What the @$#% were you watching? That test was a shocker.”


This year Les’s daughter, Carol, assisted him as he is undergoing treatment for some health issues, but Les says he is already looking towards next year’s event.


“We’ll see how we go,” he said.


In 2018, Les was awarded the ESA Jim Dunn OAM Award, which recognises outstanding service to the South Australia Equestrian community.


ABOVE: Les Limpus, an important member of the event team. Picture: TY MANNING

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