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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Melbourne Royal's start more whimper than bang these days

ABOVE: Winner of the Prince of Wales Cup Russell Johnstone. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

CALL me old fashioned, but I miss the old days when breed day opened Royal Melbourne show, with eight rings around the big arena.

The giant Clydesdales were the pride of the show and led every parade, with the supreme champion at the front.

It’s now a memory of the past.

The arena has been replaced with one a third of the size and entrants of the horse section are on tight in-and-out rosters with harness, Clydesdales and showjumping in the first few days, then saddle horses to follow.

This year, just 35 of Australia’s favourite heavy horses were on show when once there would have been hundreds.

Sadly, this is the first Melbourne Royal without Max and Kirsten Marriott, who died as a result of a car accident in February, but their stud, Aarunga, still featured prominently in the results.

It was fitting and poignant that the supreme champion led exhibit was Aarunga Tiffany, a beautiful five-year-old mare, typical of the quality of the stud.

The stud also showed the champion stallion, Aarunga Franklin, and the champion gelding, Aarunga Vain. Mathy Hyder showed the champion filly Moonrise Fallen Angel.

Joshua Taylor’s Narioka Monitor won the Clydesdale driven in reins, driven by Brenton Taylor, and Vanessa Wells’ Larvistryn Hunter was the best ridden Clydesdale.

Aarunga Spot On driven by Julie Barber was champion driven Clydesdale.

ABOVE: Vanessa Wells and Larvistryn Hunter. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

It was lovely to read such well-known family names in the results for lady drivers in the heavy delivery classes, with Maryanne Finemore, Claire Marriott, Ellen Patterson and Hillary Billett in the placings and the same surnames showing in the junior driver classes.

Peter Strafford drove Samarah Park Thomas to win the champion heavy/medium delivery class, driven in traditional vehicle, and Churchill driven by Scott Finemore was champion light delivery, driven in traditional vehicle.

The champion show harness horse was Murroka Galaxy driven by Matthew Marriott.

The magnificent team of Pride, Phillip, Prince and Peter driven by Andrew Marriott win the champion multiple turnout.

Light harness was well supported and blessed with perfect weather, the section made a lovely display.

Lisa McLennan repeated her Adelaide wins in Melbourne, with Darryl Hayes again driving Kilpara Park On Point to be champion driven Shetland with her Kilpara Park Mietta reserve.

Elsa Avery’s lovely Crosswynds Our Brenin’, the Barlow family’s Nagero Harmony and Esther Goodwin’s hackney Viscountshill Cadillac (Ned) all deserved their championships.

ABOVE: Esther Goodwin's Viscountshill Cadillac. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

In the showjumping, Susie Williams riding Commander NZPH won the John Kelly memorial and the Alice Laidlaw Memorial Trophy was won by Angela Dobbin riding Gabriel MVNZ.

Becky Allen’s Incredible C won the Colin Kelly Memorial Trophy (before his rider changes clothes for the week to judge riding in the flat classes) and Russell Johnstone with Daprice won the Prince of Wales Cup.

Russell was distressed to find that his riding whip that he had carried when he rode at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta had been lost.

While it’s of low monetary value it is a prize possession so he is desperate to get it back. It is an old jockey-style whip with a green and gold spiral pattern and a $200 reward has been offered for its return.

Elissa Stephens continued her good form of Adelaide Royal, winning both junior classes.

Other winners were Stuart Jenkins, Jessica Stalling, Brook Dobbin, James Harvey, Brooke Hickey and Allyson Lamb.

Download showjumping results

Melbourne Royal - Showjumping Results 2023
Download PDF • 311KB


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