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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Briefs: ladies lead the way, VERA Quilty shortlist out and a 60th anniversary

ABOVE: Stephanie Dore and Maurits de Vries with Corazon Gran. Picture: KIRSTY PASTO

LET’S hear it for the girls.

In showjumping, Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D' Houtveld Z took out the $140,000 1.50m grand prix at the CSI3* in Ocala, Florida, last weekend. It seems the horse that was originally bought to be an eventer, but simply is just too good a jumper, may well take his rider to the World Championships.

Edwina Tops-Alexander was fairly flying in Paris at the Longines Global Champions Tour where she rode Catenda to a dead heat in the 'Prix Elle' CSI5* 1.45m class. She shared first place with Tobias Meyer, riding Quintus-H. Both finished on 26.28 seconds.

In vaulting, Stephanie Dore delivered a beautiful performance at the CHIO World Equestrian Festival in Aachen in the female free test to music. This was despite the fact she competed on a borrowed horse.

“I was entered on another horse from Denmark, where I had been training for two weeks,” she said. “That horse was lame when we went to load him on the float. Benita Julia Golze and her mum Christina Hubert very kindly let me go on him (Corazon Gran) so I’ve only been on him once before the competition. It has just been so amazing.” Stephanie finished in 19th place overall at the event.


THE shortlist of horse and rider combinations to be considered for selection in the Victorian Endurance Riders Association (VERA) team for the Tom Quilty ride next month has been announced.

Named are Ashleigh Van Leeuwen and Kaisa SE, Daisy Bryson and Accelerate, Kasey Thomas and Rocky Point Sands of Sinhalite, Naomi McGaffin Brown and Kelkette Park Faris, Paul Bryson and Miss Dior MI, Renee Henry and Kollage MI, Russell Robinson and Alan Pendragon, Shannon Decker and Cooroora Bold Dancer, Shea Reynolds and Karraway's Gazelle and Simon Thomas and Rocky Point Sands of Cymophane.

VERA will be submitting a team into the state representative competition and into the unrestricted teams competition. *

THE world-famous Hickstead Derby in the UK had its sixtieth anniversary last week. It is considered one of the premier jumping events in the equestrian calendar.

First run in 1961 when the winner was Irishman Seamus Hayes, the list of winners is a who’s who of showjumping. Pat Smythe, Harvey Smith, Nelson Pessoa, Marion Coakes and David Broome have all taken out the event.

The most famous, and most photographed fence on the course is the Derby Bank. a jump with a 1.10m rails on top and a 3m almost vertical slope down the front.

In 2019, Michael Pender became the youngest ever winner of the Hickstead Derby, taking the title from Marion Coakes when she won the Derby in 1967 on the pony, Stroller.

Five riders have won the Hickstead Derby four times apiece: Eddie Macken, Harvey Smith, John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker and William Funnell. In 2020 and 2021, the Hickstead Derby did not run because of the Coronavirus pandemic but this year it was back, with Ireland's Shane Breen adding his name to the illustrious list after coming close to winning on several occasions over the past two decades.

“I never normally feel pressure but I was actually getting a bit anxious, because everyone kept saying, 'It's your year!’ and I’d say, ‘It’s been my year for the last 15 years’," Breen said.

"I’ve been saying to people that when I’m 80 I’ll come down with a zimmer frame and just have one old horse to jump around the Derby with, but I won’t have to do that now, thank God!"

* APPLICATIONS are open for Equestrian Victoria’s Young Ambassador of the Year awards.

The program has been running since 1987 and has recognized some outstanding young competitors.

It is for athletes aged between 16 and 21 who demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, performance, contribution to sport and leadership qualities in their chosen discipline.

The top 10 finalists attend a specialised training weekend catering to the professional and personal development of the riders. It is used to determine the top three, who are invited to attend an interview with the selectors before the winners are named at an awards dinner.

Previous winners in showjumping include Matt Williams and Jamie Kermond, both Olympic Games riders, plus several others with international experience. In eventing, Katjya Weiman has competed for Australia and current young eventing stars Sam Jeffree and Edward Darby are already making their mark.

It’s been much harder for young riders to compete internationally in dressage, but more and more of the winners are taking a deep breath and moving overseas to work with international stars, determined to achieve their dreams.

In the show horse group, many of the winners in the last 20 years are either producing national level champions or have moved on to be judges.


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