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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Royal show competitors wow judges with can-do attitude and versatility

ABOVE: Winner of the Lyn Hadden memorial trophy was Harrison Branson, of Litchfield Horse and Pony Club, who was recognised for his exemplary conduct at the show towards judges, officials and fellow competitors.

DARWIN’S Royal Show is like no other in Australia.

While the southern state royals are traditionally framed around harvest time or breeding seasons, Darwin takes advantage of the glorious winter weather and has the feeling of holiday.

It also harks back to a previous era when show mounts weren’t so precious and it was common for competitors with handsome horses to compete in showjumping as well as hack classes.

Now, more’s the pity, they get to stay in just one section but not so at Darwin, where most of the horses on show this year were dual-purpose.

Miya Fleming’s 15-year-old bay, Eon, was the champion hunter hack and supreme champion hunter of the show but the former Kiwi had no qualms in allowing her favourite horse to head straight for the jumping ring after showing off his good looks.

With a quick change from show gear to jumping, he went on to win the 1.10m class, with his stable mate Jolliance in second place. Jolly also had his turn in the show ring winning reserve champion hack.

ABOVE: Nicole Mutimer and DEA Maleficent took out champion hack. Picture: TAYLAH SOMERVILLE

The champion hack of the show was an off-the-track Thoroughbred shown by Nicole Mutimer. DEA Maleficent (aka Princess Belle) was competing at only her second show, and her first royal.

“I am so proud of how well behaved she has been,” Nicole said. “There were F18 Fighter jets flying over, lots of people, noise, rides, balloons … she even did the grand parade like a pro.

“She is the most beautiful-natured mare. We always said that if they can’t jump, they have to go but when I started her, I was very quick to confess that ‘I’m keeping her, even if she can’t jump’.”

Nicole’s sister, Dana Mutimer, was the champion open showjumping rider on Adina’s Maximus.

Carmen Nowak is well known to show horse people all parts of Australia and has produced some top-class horses that have more than held their own in big shows in the south.

She described herself as extremely happy with her two young Riding Pony mares.

Rivendell Allure took out the champion led show horse and champion led Riding Pony, then winning the Supreme Champion Led Exhibit sash.

ABOVE: Rivendell Illusion and Jaimee Bruggerman.

Her Rivendell Illusion, beautifully ridden by Jaimee Bruggerman, was judged as champion ridden Riding Pony and champion galloway before adding the supreme show horse sash.

The winner of the Lyn Hadden memorial trophy was Harrison Branson, member of the Litchfield Horse and Pony Club.

This is trophy is awarded to the competitor selected by the judges as being the most courteous to officials, kind to their horse and supportive of other competitors over the three days of competition.

Judges Megan Howe and eorge Hillas-Howe, of Tarrawingee in Victoria, said it was a pleasure to see the Darwin horses in action, moving from one discipline to the next.

“We were impressed by the versatility of riders that competed across show riding, show jumping, polo and novelties,” George said.

“The open and hunter classes were a pleasure to judge. Several of the horses successfully competed between the show jumping and show rings and our eventual supreme show hunter went on to win the 110cm showjumping!”

Ms Hillas-Howe also noted the quality of the NT-bred horses.

“There were some brilliant stock horses,” she said.

“It's been an absolute privilege to be in Darwin and to meet so many fantastic people enjoying their horses to the fullest.”

Full results not currently available.

ABOVE: Susie White and best NT-bred exhibit Territor Scout and judges George Hillas-Howe and Megan Howe.


Without a professional photographer on the grounds this year The Regional is very grateful to the Howe sisters for making their personal photographs from their trip to Darwin Royal available for readers to enjoy. Their Facebook coverage of the event has made this now the most hotly-contested judging job in Australia.

Click any image to view gallery in full.


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