• Fran Cleland

The massive Melbourne 3DE run and won for another year


ABOVE: A very happy Charlotte Penny and Festival take a lap of honour. Picture: DEREK O'LEARY

TIMES have changed since the Melbourne Three Day Event was run on the wooded hills of Oaklands Hunt club.


Round the famous hills, riders did roads and tracks and steeplechase as well as the cross country, and the dressage was held in at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on the main arena.


Move to 2022 and Werribee Park, with the famous mansion as a backdrop for cross country close to the city and so much has changed.


Roads and tracks and steeplechase have gone, and the competition is more of a one-day event over three days.


It is a massive production.


There are trade stands, a young horse competition and show jumping, in the evening visitors could learn how ex race horses learn new careers and even get their photos taken with the Melbourne Cup, but the main heart of the event is still the cross country for the horses and riders and certainly for the spectators.


For the first time since Covid struck there was an Oceania Championship with Australia’s senior and junior riders competing in teams.


The Australian Senior Green Team maintained their lead from the dressage through the event to win the overall senior championships on a score of 107.3. The Australian Senior Gold Team finished second on 111.9, followed by New Zealand with 125.6.


Australian Green Team members Shane Rose on Easy Turn and Jessica Rae on Fifth Avenue both jumped clear rounds in the final phase. Lauren Browne riding Sky's da Limit knocked one rail, while Sam Jeffree and Woodmount Lolita decided not to start in the showjumping.


Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture, members of the Australian Senior Gold Team, won the overall CCI4*-L competition, marking the biggest win of the combination's career.


ABOVE: Winners of the four star Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture. Picture: DEREK O'LEARY

The pair finished with a score of 25.3, adding no jumping penalties to their dressage score for the event, and just 0.4 time in the showjumping phase.


Lowings said winning the event seemed surreal but that her focus was now firmly on selection for the upcoming FEI World Championships, set to take place in Italy later this year. A move overseas is planned to boost her campaign.


“I am extremely excited,” she said. “I feel like there is still so much hard work to come and that this was the easy bit. I have got my World Championship qualification and I am just really looking forward to what the future holds and what we have planned over the next few months.”


The Australian Young Rider Team finished in second place on 157.5 points behind Team New Zealand on 139.0 points in the Oceania Championship competition.


Australia started the showjumping phase with a team of three after Edward Darby and Dawn of the Day elected not to present to the ground jury on the final morning. The David Sheppard-designed track proved tough in the CCI3*-L, with some unexpected difficulties for the Australian Young Rider Team.


The highest placed Australian young rider was Riley Lyall, riding his off-the-track Thoroughbred GI War Machine, finishing in 10th position.


Australian Young Rider Team Chef d'Equipe Andrew Barnett said all members of the team represented Australia admirably and that the future of Australian eventing was bright.


“It has been a fantastic experience for all of them,” he said. “They have all worked extremely hard, and really well as a team. We have experienced the highs and lows of being a team, with Edward not being able to trot-up this morning. It all got very close in the end, but it didn’t go our way today. I think the experience these guys have had is fantastic and they are going to improve on their riding and come back stronger.”


The CCI3*L winner was Charlotte Penny riding her baldy faced chestnut, Festival. She takes the trophy and bragging rights home to New Zealand.


The CCI2*L was won by Chelsea Priestley and Southern Sandro Stern, who led from the start in a really big field. Sadly Lisa North and Magic Mystical Merlin, who had overcome enormous obstacles to finally get a start at the event this year, were forced to withdraw in the dressage after a training accident left the bay gelding struggling in the canter.


At her first time competing at the Melbourne event, Molly Line jumped clear and under time on her off-the-track Thoroughbred Tadpole to win the CCI2*L young rider section.


Click here for all scores.

Click here for more DEREK O'LEARY images from this event.


Read also: The agony and the ecstacy - well, more of the former than the latter!