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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Some mighty performances stand out at Melbourne 3DE

ABOVE: Will Enzinger and Epic Xtreme on the way to a win in the two-star. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

MARK Twain once said “what counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it's the size of the fight in the dog”.

He might well have been talking of the first and third placegetters in the junior two-star class at the Melbourne International Three-Day Event.

No one told the winner, Avril Charman’s 14.3hh cob-cross Annabella, or Chloe Daun’s equally small Riding Pony PEC Barindale Grandeur, that big cross-country courses are not usually for ponies.

Both combinations attacked the fences with glee and finished on their dressage scores, split by Tahlia Pursell and the New Zealand-bred Astro NZPH.

There was a super lineup of young riders in the two-star junior class, and they were all solid in their performances.

ABOVE: Avril Charman and Annabella looking confident over big fences. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG

The experience of Will Enzinger showed through in the big field of senior two-star riders, bringing Epic Xtreme through leading from the start in a section which otherwise was a lot different at the end than when it started.

Gemma Tinney and PHS Hilton were seventh after dressage, with a solid cross country moving them up to fourth followed by a clear showjumping round for a second place.

Samantha Cesnik and Giovanni Georgio moved up from ninth after dressage for third and Olivia Shore’s beautiful Dreamcatcher rose spectacularly from 15th after dressage to be fourth.

Three of the first four placegetters in the three-star class were off-the-track racehorses including Teegan Ashby’s Magic Mushroom TAE, who took out the division.

A really unlucky fall at Adelaide over the last fence meant that Teegan had her heart set on doing well at Melbourne and she did just that leading from the dressage.

The pair deserved their win as they have been in great form all season and at Melbourne last year placed third in the two-star.

ABOVE: Three-star winners Teegan Ashby and Magic Mushroom TAE. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY
ABOVE: Teegan Ashby and Magic Mushroom TAE in full flight. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

Sophia Hill and Seattle Park (OTT) were 11th after dressage, but immaculate jumping in cross country and showjumping brought his four month-pregnant rider home to a second placing.

Samuel Jeffree and Santoro were solid through all phases for third place and Andy Daines and the handsome grey, Hat Trick (OTT), were fourth.

Bronte Bravo received the Caitlyn Fischer Memorial Award for the highest performing young rider in the CCI3*L class.

This award was introduced in 2016 to commemorate the life of Cailtyn, a member of the Victorian Young Rider Squad who represented Victoria at the National Interschool Championships. Caitlyn lost her life in an accident in 2016, aged 19.

ABOVE: Four-star winners Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY

Olivia Barton and Hollyander HG won the four-star in a competition where dressage had very little influence on the final placings.

Hollyander HG (stable name Holly) was given to Olivia to ride by Bob and Ela Weight when the mare was four and they have built a strong partnership.

The pair was equal first after the cross-country phase with Oliver Barrett on Sandhill Special, but the grey mare that had won the CCI3* and Young Rider Championship at Adelaide Equestrian Festival 2023 failed the trot up before the showjumping phase and was withdrawn.

David Middleton and WEC In The Breeze were a fence behind in the final score, and Andrew Cooper’s Sharvalley Thunder one point behind him.

ABOVE: Sam Jeffree and Santoro. Picture: DEREK O’LEARY
ABOVE: Andrew Cooper and Sharvalley Thunder. Picture: ONE-EYED FROG

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