Articles Written 128
Article Views 154,111

John Lechner


Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About John Lechner

John Lechner is Australian based in the Hunter Valley of NSW with a focus on Eventing Photography and Writing about the sport he is passionate about. You can check out John's photography at

Latest Articles Written

FEI sets minimum strength for frangible fences….

A new era in Eventing has slipped by without fanfare or even a press release, the FEI have finally released a copy of the “Standard for the minimum strength of frangible/deformable cross country fences”, a mouthful I know.

This standard which came into effect on 1 January 2012, yes I know it was released on 22 March 2012, sets out many of the criteria for how a frangible/deformable device should be designed, tested and put into the market place i.e. in a XC course near you.
In true FEI style this document has been written in a manner that isn’t accessible to the average consumer. That said it isn’t aimed at the average consumer but the manufacturers and future manufacturers of frangible devices and in many ways FEI Officials. 
However, personally I see two roadblocks that exist.
  1. To date, the Register of Products, is not public. That means that we don’t know which products meet the standard and which do NOT. What frangible devices will you see on XC this weekend?
  2. The Instructions for each device need to be accessible, this is particularly critical to allow in field assessment by Officials to ensure a device has been correctly installed. This information is listed as key for the supplier to provide but is critical for the FEI to share with all relevant parties.

What does this mean in practice for you as a rider, whether weekend warrior or four star gold medalist? 

Well, in theory from now on when you step onto XC and see a frangible device you will know it has been tested to meet the standard and is stamped accordingly. Under the standard each device must be marked with;
  • Country of manufacture
  • Manufacturers name
  • FEI registration number

In practice until the Register of Products and Instructions are public and available to both rders and officials this standard will mean little.

What does surprise me is they have dropped the idea of a fail strength. Instead they have created a minimum strength, this is based on a specific test with essentially a standardised pendulum strike.
Under this standardised test, the device MUST NOT fail. However the device must fail at levels between 10%-25% above this standardised test. That is no earlier than 10% above the minimum and must fail before 25% and every time over 25% over the standard level.
I think we have a way to go before this all works in a practical sense and I must applaud all those involved for getting this far.
The word around the campfire is not all of the current devices in circulation meet the standard which I believe is one of the reasons for the delay in the publication of the Standard. The coming weeks and months will hopefully provide more clarity.

Yours in Eventing and interesting FEI documents,


EN Power Ranking Round 3 – Presented by SmartPak

Thumbnail image for SmartPakLogo.gif.png

Well, Eventing Nation, with March coming to a close and Rolex Kentucky looming ever closer on the calendar, now is a good time to pull out your thinking caps, ready your cursors, and vote for your favorite horses and riders for this month’s Power Ranking. 

The list of twenty something names may look long enough to take up more than your lunch break to vote on, but it’s actually not that time consuming, and just remember that your vote counts! This is a list from the people and the only opportunity for the members of the eventing community to vote and rank the eventing elite. 
I said back in January that this list would need some time to become relevant, as back in January most of the riders top horses were still being legged up after a fall vacation. But now, with several rounds of Rocking Horses, Full Gallops, and other local lead up events out of the way, and the conclusion of first big FEI event of the season at Red Hills out of the way, the spring season is really starting to shape up. 
I expect that this month’s ranking will really be a shake up from last month’s. In terms of the US string, Dutton’s Mystery Whisper has really impressed a lot of people over the past month, as has Marilyn Little-Meredith’s horses, Loughan Glen has been looking really well, and Becky Holder’s greys have been very consistent this spring. The Canadians are going just as well, Kendal Lehari and Daily Edition had one of the few clear show jumping rounds at Red Hills, and the other formidable Canadian pairs have had a stealthy, but consistent spring prep. 
Who are your favorites, Eventing Nation? All comments should be directed to the comment section below. If you feel we left out someone who deserved to be there, don’t hesitate to add your comments. 

Thursday Morning News from Devoucoux


Good Morning Eventing Nation! I hope your week has been going well. Looking forward to this weekend, there are only two competitions on the roster. The Event at Three-Day Ranch in California [Entry Status], and the Pine Top Spring Horse Trials [Entry Status].  It looks like it will be a full house at both events; in California, Hawley Bennett-Awad has three rides in the Advanced-Intermediate, her groom Natalia Gurmankin is also riding in that division along with several other notable names. It’s the same story at Pine Top, although the highest division running is Preliminary, all the big guns will be there this weekend on younger horses. 

This is just a quick reminder before moving on to the real news, but don’t forget about the Bit of Britain/Cavalor ‘Problem Horse Contest’. You could win a month’s supply of Cavalor supplements and all you have to do is Reply to the thread on the Bit of Britain Facebook page with your horse’s issue and be entered to win! Once you’ve done that, just email your contact information to [email protected] and you’re done! I’d recommend keeping your the paragraph describing your horse’s problem to something that a supplement could potentially help, ex. “Lightning is perfect in the warm-up at events but then gets really tense and worked up in the dressage arena” instead of ‘I think Lightning is possessed, In the rare moments he’s not bucking, launching, or shying etc….” We’ll keep reminding you but enter now if you have a couple seconds, a month of supplements from Cavalor is a pretty fantastic prize. 
The story of the morning, thanks to a tip from JER, is the Cambridge/Oxford riding team debacle that has been circulating into the media’s grasp. Evidently each year the two schools hold a joint competition for the riding team students, comprised of a dressage test and show jumping round. This year, the visiting team of Cambridge was originally declared the winner but after the prize giving, there was some scoring confusion (or as Cambridge would put it: Oxford cheated us and rearranged the scoring) but either way, the title was handed to Oxford, then back to Cambridge, and they still can’t decide who rightfully won. As one Cambridge student put it, “To be honest, the trouble [of this ordeal] has just a big load of horse—-.” [The Telegraph]
I thought I’d get all the JER stories done before moving on to the subsequently less interesting ones, and in her typical fashion, she was kind enough to send us another great story, this time about Cheltenham racing. For those not well versed in anything horse related other than sand boxes, cross country courses, and colored rails, Cheltenham is a famous race course in England and considered to be the premier course in the country. The opening weekend of jump racing was last weekend, according to the reports, everything started and finished well with only a few minor bobbles during the course of the weekend. There were the usual falls that happen at big races like at Cheltenham, but this weekend jockeys weren’t the only ones taking a tumble. Evidently during the Champion Chase race, a photographer got serious facial injuries after a falling horse struck his camera and his face.  I’d be interested to know how exactly it happened that he was close enough to the fences to be struck by a horse but anyway, I digress. Go Cheltenham. [The Guardian]
A blogger for the Chronicle from the Hunter/Jumper scene wrote a very interesting article about the drug rules and how they are affecting the future of Hunters. According to Robin Greenwood, a prominent name and authority in the sport, actually is of the opinion that the drug rules are becoming too stringent. Her thinking is that as long as hunters are expected to go around in a quiet and relaxed manner, people will be finding ways around the rules to make that happen, so the better route would be to allow the basic sedatives, such as acepromazine, or another low level tranquilizer. I thought it was an interesting article because the author had a very different attitude towards drugs and horses than I think most event people would have. I personally think a zero tolerance rule for tranquilizers is the only way to judge the competition fairly, if someone is going to tranquilize a horse to compete, you can pretty much bet that most everyone will be too. It’s a tricky subject for sure, what are your thoughts on the current drug rules? [COTH]

The new HBO TV show Luck has been suspended with a strong possibility of being discontinued after a third horse died on the set while filming. Luck has certainly been unlucky in it’s debut, it sounds like this last accident was really just a freak accident. A mare was being walked back ed to her stall by a groom when she reared and flipped over and died instantaneously. The Humane Society has been monitoring the horse welfare on the set, and stated in a press release: “While this incident did not occur on set, while filming, or during racing, we immediately demanded that all production involving horses [be] shut down until the set has undergone a  thorough and complete investigation. [Horsetalk]
Ingrid Klimke recently gave a nice interview talking about what it’s like preparing for what could potentially be her fourth Olympics. She had a great quote at the end, saying: “You must always have dreams and goals never rest, never think you have had it all — then it is better to quit — but I would love to keep going.” I thought that was a nice piece of inspiration we could all taking something away from. [CNN]
Jennie Brannigan writes about her up and down stay in Aiken. [COTH]
That’s all I have for you right now, Eventing Nation! Have a great day, I’ll catch you later!

Wednesday Reader From Horse Quencher

A FEI spokesperson explained, “With all due respect, Horse Nation’s submission was the worst thing the FEI has ever seen.” [HN]
Good Morning Eventing Nation! Welcome to Wednesday. I didn’t think I would ever be saying these words in the middle of March, but it looks like it’s going to be a scorcher today, no matter where you are located. I almost feel bad for the snow birds that flocked south this winter, they left their perches up north to exchange the dredges of winter for a warmer climate, but it’s been more hot than warm this spring. I’m just hoping that this unseasonably warm winter doesn’t mean that we are in for a heat stroke of a summer. 
Now let’s get on to the news. 
Here’s the updated list of Rolex entries, we’re getting closerrrrrrrr 
William Fox-Pitt and LIONHEART
William Fox-Pitt and NEUF DES COEURS
William Fox-Pitt and PARKLANE HAWK
William Fox-Pitt and SEACOOKIE TSF
Kate Hicks and BELMONT
Holly Hudspeth and LAST MONARCH
Ashley Leith and JET
Clark Montgomery and LOUGHAN GLEN
Karen L. O’Connor and MR. MEDICOTT
Karen L. O’Connor and VERONICA
Oliver Townend and ODT SONAS ROVATIO
Oliver Townend and PEPPER ANNE
Lucy Wiegersma and GRANNTEVKA PRINCE
Across the Pond, the Household Cavalry has launched a campaign called ‘Fashion for the Brave.’ According to the Horse and Hound, “The initiative will raise funds for the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund, which provides financial support to injured soldiers and their families, and the British Forces Foundation, which aims to boost the morale of servicemen and women on the frontline through high quality entertainment.’ The Cavalry has enlisted the help of two supermodels to pose with the horses and officers at a photo shoot, the results of which will be unveiled at a Fashion show for the cause in a few months time. [Horse and Hound] 

Caroline Powell has had a good start to the season after winning two sections at her first event of 2012, the Isleham Horse Trials. Caroline won two Novice (Preliminary) sections, which seems to us like a pretty fair result, but to win two sections that’s forty or more horses deep at an event England is a pretty big deal. Congrats to Caroline, and hopefully we’ll be seeing her and the diminutive Lenamore out soon as they gear up for another go at Badminton. [Newmarket Journal]
The bones of Australia’s most famous race horse, Phar Lap, which have resided in the Melbourne museum for a number of years, have recently undergone reconstruction to showcase a better representation of the national icon.  According to the article, “There were a series of minor errors made during the [Original reconstruction] that collectively mean that the skeleton does not quite match the proud physique of Phar Lap in his prime.” When the skeleton was first arranged in the 1930’s, the withers were placed much to close together, making Phar Lap’s back look much too short, and further mistakes made him appear sickle hocked and made his head appear to droop. Dr. Alex Davies, an expert in both Taxidermy and equine anatomy, will head the reconstruction, which is estimated to take at least three months. Once complete however, Phar Lap will once again resemble the champion he always was. [Horsetalk]
When the USEF changed their drug rule last year to ban NSAID medications (Bute, Banamine, and the like) from being combined at a specific time, many were unsure of what the motivation was for the rule change. TheHorse put together a great article summarizing how the combination of the two really has no superior effect, but rather they have been proven to increase the risk of both gastrointestinal ulcers and renal toxicity when combined. The moral of the story is to not only know the rules, but the causes for their enactment and reasons why they should be abided by. [The Horse]
Over in England, researchers are compiling a study to test fitness levels in women riders at ranging age and skill levels. The study will be conducted at the University of Worchester, where riders interested in taking part will be asked to undertake a fitness test at the University of Worcester to assess aerobic fitness, core stability, lower and upper body strength, balance and reaction time. The hope is that by testing riders of different skill levels, they will be able to determine which physical fitness factors are more prevalent in upper level riders versus lower level ones, and ultimately will come up with a better formula to target the condition needed for riders to compete at the top. It seems like a nice idea, but I have to wonder how accurate the results will be. My initial feeling was that the Advanced riders would obviously be the most fit, but not necessarily because of the one or two Advanced horses they ride everyday, but because of the six or nine other ones they ride as a professional in the sport, versus an amateur rider with one horse. It will be an interesting study to follow nevertheless. [Horsetalk]
PRO Blog: Lauren Lambert
Best of the Blogs: The Hills That Were Red

That’s all for
now, Eventing Nation! Have an excellent day, I’ll catch ya later!

From Horse Quencher: Water is a key ingredient to recover from, ward off or otherwise reduce the impact of illnesses (especially colic). But how to get them to drink when they’re feeling punky? Horse Quencher, of course! As David Scott, DVM says, “Excited and stressed horses do not usually choose to drink; as a veterinary surgeon and rider I usually find that this is when their fluid needs are at their highest, e.g. after strenuous exercise such as hunting or eventing; during long work such as endurance or long pleasure rides; after surgery, either under sedation or general anesthetic; during and after recovery from colic of almost all causes; during any management change e.g., staying at shows or sales; low grade exercise in extremely hot weather. Encouraging drinking during these periods can be frustrating and failure to achieve reasonable hydration status during periods of increased need can have severe health consequences. I was introduced to Horse Quencher by endurance rider Lucinda Stapleton as a product that could truly ‘make horses drink!’ I personally use it for my hunters before the long journey home, they would always refuse fluid before and then drink huge quantities at home; all surgical patients are introduced to it before surgery so that they will actively drink afterwards reducing the “bunging” effect of surgery as fluid intake increases gut motility; for colic patients especially those with colonic impactions where one of the classic problems is their refusal to drink. Horse Quencher can truly help in those situations where horses need fluid but for whatever reason will not drink.”


ESJ’s Olympic Team selections, Part 3 – The Kiwis

Jock Paget and Clifton Promise at Burghley 2011

Wow, you guys really engaged on Team USA, mostly positive, although I did cop a hiding for considering Tiana. I still sand by my comments, I think Blenheim was a turning point for her and I expect bigger and better things.

I have been saying for a while now that the Kiwi Eventers will be the ones to beat in London and they have way too much depth in horsepower compared to other nations. For instance, Andrew Nicholson has three horses on the New Zealand 2012 list (every country does it a little different and NZ has a squad for London, then Normandy). All three of Andrew’s horses could make the team and be formidable, even with Andrew in the saddle on all three they would be a chance of gold (I know only one horse per rider but run with this for a moment).
Let’s start with Nicholson’s first ride Nereo, its recent record is: 2nd Burghley, 15th Aachen, 12th Badminton, 3rd WEG, 4th Hartpury and 11th Badminton, you would pick it for the team, no questions.
Then we move to Avebury: 8th Burghley, 12th Barbury, 10th Badminton, 22nd Burghley, 2nd Hartpury, 21st Barbury and 27th Badminton. Not as good as Nereo and prone to a few more faults, but better than almost every horse on the US and Canadian teams.

Then we come to Nicholson’s third string ride Mr Cruise Control: 2nd Pau, 1st Hartpury, 14th Luhmuhlen, 30th Chatsworth, 9th Pau, 15th Blenheim, 1st Hartpury, 4th Luhmuhlen and 5th Blenheim, not exactly what you would expect from a third string horse. In fact on some teams this would easily be a number one horse. I think the only way you could get Nicholson not to pull off a top 10 spot is to put him on a Jersey Cow, even then you might need to watch out.
So the question for picking Andrew Nicholson is simply which of his rides is in the best condition just before the Games, Nereo would be my first choice but I really don’t think it matters.
Nicholson did have a fourth four star horse on the list until very recently, it was Armada, another contender very experienced at four star level this horse was another for Andrew to put his hat in the ring with.
Armada has a very impressive four star record. The interesting thing is that Oliver Townend has taken over the ride.  Given the timing one would assume for the Olympics, but it is critical that nationality needs to have been set in stone by 31 Dec 2011, so Oli can’t be considered for the British team on this mount.

Next on the NZ 2012 list is Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express, the worst result for this pair in the last 10 starts is 39th at WEG, all others are top 10 finishes including two wins back to back in Kihikihi and Sydney World Cups last year. These two are a great pair, Clarke is only young and simply if Orient Express maintains fitness, they should be in London.

Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express at Blenheim 2011

Next on the Kiwi list is Jonathan (Jock) Paget who has two horses on the list Clifton Lush which is a ride he picked up from fellow Kiwi Joe Meyer last year, Lush is a 13 yo NZ Thoroughbred. This pair are still bedding down their partnership with 2 incomplete XC last year, but then finishing on a high with a fifth at Burghley, arguably the toughest XC course in the world. This pair are a possibility. Jock’s other ride is his longterm mount Clifton Promise, this pair are more consistent and have a lot of miles under them as a combination. One of the stats that jumped out at me was they had 11 straight top 4 results. While things have not always been perfect for this pair with 3 incomplete events on their record, they pulled off a 7th at WEG, 16th at last year’s Aachen and then 12th at Burghley so they are certainly back on track. Personally I would take Promise over Lush. These guys will be on the Kiwi team.
Mark (Toddy) Todd has three horses on the list and the NZ High Performance team lists two of those as injured, his top two horses Badminton winner NZB Land Vision and NZB Grass Valley. His third horse on the list is Major Milestone, so lets start there.

Major Milestone is a 13 year old Irish horse that Toddy picked up the ride on in 2010, their dressage hasn’t been great, by Toddy’s standards at least with 50s and 60s, but from five FEI starts they have achieved two top-20 four star finishes, a top 20 CIC3* finish and two top 40 including Badminton. These guys are a combination to watch and if they can drop below 50 in the dressage, they could be very serious.

Toddy’s NZB Land Vision has been off the radar since winning last year’s Badminton.  While the Kiwi HP list notes the horse as injured, I can find no mention in the press of the injury, and I have asked around–no one is prepared to say. So unless we see an in form Land Vision pop up at Badminton or Saumur this spring we have to assume Toddy won’t be riding him at the Games.  ** Edit: we received word from UptownEventing via Twitter that “Land Vision has been injured but is fully fit & if you check Toddy’s twitter & facebook you will see that he has been to team training.”  Thank you for the update, Uptown! **

After winning Badminton last year, Toddy hopped on a plane to Kentucky and tried to do a back to back on NZB Grass Valley, they failed to finish. I heard (from behind the tack shed) that Grass Valley may have done a tendon, again information is slim and I don’t really know. Same deal applies as Land Vision, hopefully it will pop back up this spring and be in contention for the Games. Of the three horses if fitness was right I would take Land Vision, as for the other two it is a toss up but in the end it may be that Major Milestone is the only one of the three fit enough. Personally, I would take Toddy on a donkey if that meant I had him on a team, Major Milestone, is a good horse and with experience and Toddy in the saddle it may become a GREAT horse.

That leaves one spot, under normal circumstances you wouldn’t consider taking a 20-year-old horse to the Olympic Games, Caroline Powell’s Lenamore in no normal mount. Lenamore has recently achieved a milestone, he is the most successful horse in British Eventing history having recently surpassed Spring Along to have the most BE points ever.

Caroline Powell and Lenamore at Burghley last year not bad for 19yo old

Lenamore is one of those special horses; this 15.2h 20-year-old Irish Sport Horse is still achieving, at Burghley last year I remember him approaching and being surprised at how light on his feet he was, he was almost silent. Last year Lenamore completed both Burghley 4th, Badminton 6th, and had won the 2010 Burghley, so yes I would pick a 20-year-old horse for London, his name is Lenamore.

So that is five but who else to the Kiwis have on the radar? There are some talented jockeys, that are worth considering. First up is 21 year old Jonelle Richards, Jonelle did her first four star last year and finished 27th, while she may not be a real London contender, I’d have her on the watch list for Normandy. Blyth Tait has made a come back recently and his mount Santos is yet to prove worthy of the Kiwi team. In their three FEI outings to date they retired at Burghley and picked up a bunch of jumping penalties at the two events previously. Blyth has the talent it really is a question of whether he can get the best from Santos in the future.
Finally, I think Neil Spratt warrants some attention, he has been working away in the shadow of some of these horses above, his mount Upleaden has shown some real promise with a 20th at Burghley and 22nd at Luhmuhlen, although he did also pick up 20 jumping penalties. Neil is my Kiwi reserve.

So there you have it, a team that will almost certainly be on the podium in London and with a good chance of taking gold.

Andrew Nicholson – Nereo
Clarke Johnstone – Orient Express
Jock Paget – Clifton Promise
Mark Todd – Major Milestone / **Land Vision
Caroline Powell – Lenamore

With Reserve
Neil Spratt – Upleaden

OK team EN let me have it, tell me who I missed, why I picked the wrong horses and whatever else tickles your fancy.

Yours in Eventing,


Previous predictions:
Team Canada
Team USA

A cat amongst the pigeons Part 2 – Team USA

Thank you EN for engaging, in a nice way on the first part of this story, Team Canada. Lots of banter, I really appreciate it. I do want to clear up one misconception before we move on any further. London is an Olympic Four Star event, they do the 2008 Olympic 4* B test, XC must be about 5700m that is 10 mins with 42-45 efforts. They all then do a full four star jumping round and then the top 25 (max 3/nation) will jump off again up to 12 efforts at 125cm. This is not a soft CIC or three star event. Greenwich Park has killer terrain, it will be as tough as most four stars.

Following on from the start of this series and Canada, next up is Team USA and this field is also wide open.  Like my Canadian article, it’s important to remember that these are just my opinions and not the opinions of EN, John, or the chinchillas. To me there is only one combination that will be on the plane no matter what: Boyd and Neville. No selector for any Nation would avoid picking this pair for London, these Aussie-bred tough buggers will have your back in an Olympic tussle.

There are two other Aussies I hope will make the US team, Phillip Dutton and Mystery Whisper. Mystery Whisper is a new partnership for Phillip having only secured the ride in November from Heath Ryan, Boyd Martin’s former mentor and Australian Eventer and Dressage competitor. Heath bred Mystery and it was intended originally for him to be a dressage mount, but horses as they are, have their own plans and he ended up an Eventer, but one with some very fine dressage skills.

I have believed for a few years now that Mystery is one of the best event horses in the world, unfortunately his results don’t show this. Mainly because a couple of years ago, Heath had a small stroke and since then his cross country hasn’t been quite right. As a partnership Mystery and Phillip will be a force to be reckoned with.

So that is two, who will fill the other three spots?

Sinead and Manoir de Carneville are a shoe-in, they have been in top form and deserve to be on any team. They are well seasoned in Europe and the UK; they will go to London.

There are a few on the B List I have considered only briefly, they won’t be going to London. Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, this horse is only proven at the 2-star level (too green).  Will Coleman and Twizzel–too much risk. Shannon Lilley and Ballingowan Pizzaz are only a 2* combination at the moment.  Marilyn Little-Meredith and RF Rovano Rex, this is a new partnership with promising potential but they are untested at a four star and too risky for London. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen also promising but untested at four star level, a good Rolex may get them a look in but they still only make my top 10 combinations.
Karen O’Connor is interesting.  She has a shiny new ride Mr. Medicott, picked up from top German rider Frank Ostholt. Karen needs to prove herself with this new mount and I expect she will run at Rolex, looking for a good outing. That said, I am not convinced by the horse; in its last 10 FEI starts he has twice not completed XC and had 20 penalties on two other occasions. There are better tested combinations in the US ranks in my opinion.

Jules Stiller and Chapel Amble unfortunately have had a few XC issues which knock them off my team. I also considered, despite her exclusion from the High Performance lists Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz; personally I believe their dressage is not quite there yet, perhaps she would benefit from working with CMP. Also, Shiraz sometimes takes 2 or 3 jumping rails.

Buck and Ballynoe Castle RM at Badminton 2011, photo thanks to Samantha Clark

So who is left? We mustn’t forget Buck, he has three mounts on the list but Ballynoe Castle RM is the real prospect in my opinion.  I would take them filling the number five spot on the team. Buck has proven he can get consistent results with this horse. Buck’s recent injury shouldn’t bother him at London although it will affect his preparations and will probably adjust his schedule. Hopefully his collarbone will heal quickly and we will see him out competing again soon.

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister, these two seem to have tackled a demon at Blenheim, and they are on their way up.  A Badminton top 10 would squeeze them onto the team but at the moment, for me at least, they sit in the number six spot, just missing out on a berth at this stage. That said, they are based in the UK and will probably go into camp, and you never know what happens when you put horses on airplanes.

Will Faudree and USEF’s Sara Ike

Finally Will Faudree and Pawlow, this pair is impressive and edges out Buck for the number 4 spot on the team. Very consistent with only one finish outside a top 20 (it was 21st) in their last 10 FEI starts and six of those top ten.

So there you have it, Team USA in my humble opinion will be:
Boyd Martin – Neville Bardos
Phillip Dutton- Mystery Whisper
Sinead Halpin – Manoir de Carneville
Will Faudree – Pawlow
Buck Davidson – Ballynoe Castle RM
Reserve Tiana Coudray – Ringwood Magister

A strong team all capable of top ten spots in a four star, bring on the Games.
In my next story I will tackle the Kiwis.

Yours in Eventing,


A cat amongst the pigeons part 1 – Canada

Team Canada, pic thanks to Samantha Clark

Get out your red pen, warm up the forums, I am about to make some personal predictions and I am sure you will disagree with at least part if not every single word of what follows below.

Let’s soldier on.  For starters it is an Olympic year, that means that every elite rider is gunning for selection on their respective National team.  We have about 5 months until the Games, some big key events and I, ESJ, am going to read the tea leaves and name the teams I think will represent their Nation for what I think are the seven countries that have a chance of winning gold in London.

The plan is simple, this story will identify the five riders that will represent Canada, then we will tackle Team USA, the Aussies, the Kiwis, I will look at the Poms (UK), Frogs (France) and finally the Krauts (Germany).

I know this is fraught but why not at least engage in the debate, this is all a bit of fun and who knows I may actually get a few combinations right. As a side note, I am well aware of the sacrifices each and every rider makes to even be considered to ride for their Nation. I am not trying to make light of that effort, this story and those that follow, is simply that–a story. I am not a selector, nor do I have ANY influence with any selector from any Nation, these are my opinions and analysis alone.

I am going to kick off with Canada and would prefer you to read the whole story before you storm off about that crazy Aussie guy.

David O’Connor, head of Team Canada for a few more months, photo by Samantha Clark

Here goes nothing.  Canada is still riding high off their silver medal at WEG in Kentucky and David O’Connor is looking forward to going out on a high as Canuck team coach. He has a great pool of riders and some depth in horses to play with, so who are the contenders for the Canadians?

Don’t worry I have not been completely random, I have trawled the Canadian Short and Long Lists [PDF] for my selection, I have looked at results and consistency. The big question, as always, is fitness.

I will say right now that I believe Canada will send an all female team. In my opinion, none of their male combinations is currently up to the task.
Peter Barry is at the top of the short list by virtue of alphabetical order so lets examine Peter and Kilroden Abbott–they have had 20 XC penalties and lots of time in last 2 CCI starts, their last clear CCI was in Oct 2010. I think there are better options to look at.

Peter is the only guy on the short list, as we progress to the long list and find James Atkinson with Gustav–they are a green 2 star combination and won’t be travelling. The only other male rider with any three or four star form is Kyle Carter.

Sadly, Kyle and Madison Park didn’t have a good trip to the UK last year, and I don’t expect to see Kyle in London this year. So that really only leaves the ladies, and Canada has some class performers.

Lets start with Jessica Phoenix and Exponential (I would pick a fit Exponential over Pavorotti).  This pair had a good not great result at Burghley last year that proves they can cross the ditch and still get it together. Their Rolex and WEG results also help.  I know Exponential was withdrawn after XC at WEG but with this effort, who could be surprised.

The next name as you go down the list is Hawley and Gin & Juice.  This combination traveled to the UK twice last year to tackle the big four stars Badminton and Burghley.  On both occasions their results were less than stellar and not consistent with their continental US results. I don’t think Gin & Juice travels well and for this reason I have left them off my Canadian team, in the number six spot, subject to the fitness of others.

Diana Burnett has three nominated mounts as possibilities for London.  Manny, her four star mount, has no recent form since being withdrawn at Rolex last year, which suggests a fitness issue.  Diana’s younger horse Diamond Cut III is not established at three star and so is highly doubtful for a four star Games. I do like the look of Shigatzi and have put this combination on my maybe list.  I have a doubt about them with time on XC and jumping but lets leave them as a maybe for the moment.

Lisa Marie Fergusson and the late Smart Move would have made my team, they had shown some really promising results and, although the horse was young, consistent clear XC and clear jumping put them on my team. The loss of Smart Move at the beginning of such a promising career is not just a loss to Lisa Marie but Canadian Eventing.

Jessica Hampf and her Aussie bred High Society III have picked up 20 XC penalties and 20 time penalties at the last two Rolex’s–this drops them off the team for me. Besides, imagine the confusion of two Jess’s on the team (in all seriousness, I am not using this as criteria).

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master make the team.  They are very consistent with low 50s dressage scores, no XC faults and with the occasional time on XC or jumping rail, they are still consistent enough performers to be on the team.

Micheline Jordan and Irish Diamonds–unfortunately they have too many inconsistencies on XC for my liking.  I had to leave them off the team.

Kendal Lehari and Daily Edition–this is an interesting pair. At CIC events they perform really well as very consistent real contenders. Unfortunately the picture is not as good at the CCI level.  In their last five CCI starts this combination have had 20 XC, 20 Jumping, Retired, Withdrawn, and 16.4 XC time with 8 Jumping.  I’d take them to a CIC but not a CCI.

The final combination on the Canadian Short List (the official one, not mine) is Kathryn Robinson and Let it Bee. This is a relatively green combination but they are UK based and rode at the test event. This is my reserve combination, if one of the horses doesn’t step off the plane well, these guys are a solid back up.

Before we finish up with the Canucks, lets have a quick glance at the Long List for any other contenders. I only see two, both great performers with solid results behind them but both a question of fitness given the lack of activity behind them in the last six months. The spring season will decide how they fall as far as the team goes but if both are fit and back to form, I would pick them.

These two are Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch with Port Authority and Selena O’Hanlon with Colombo. Both had a bad day at last year’s Badminton and both are capable of very good dressage. I know that Hawley and GNJ had a better day at Badminton than both of these combinations, but I am concerned that the second result not to usual form by Hawley in the UK may be a sticking point.

No other combinations jump out at me, so where does that leave us?

Jessica Phoenix – Exponential
Rebeccca Howard – Riddle Master
If they can prove fit this spring then:
Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch – Port Authority
Selena O’Hanlan – Colombo
With, next in line
Diana Burnett – Shigatzi
Hawley Bennett-Awad – Gin & Juice
Finally as in-country reserve should something go wrong in the UK:
Kathryn Robinson – Let it Bee

This is a strong team whichever way the fitness falls, surprisingly no men, but this all women team is very capable of bringing home gold.

I leave you with these thoughts, engage in the debate, keep it nice and I will be back soon with my thoughts on Team USA.

Yours in Eventing,


Prue Barrett – Almost a year on

Prue and her youngest son Jesper

Last year after spending a couple of hours around Prue Barrett’s kitchen table talking about her thoughts and plans for the new job she had, as Performance Director of the Australian Eventing Program, I came away impressed. At the time she hadn’t even started the new job it had just been announced. There was a bit of controversy at the time, the decision to appoint Prue was done, somewhat unusually for Equestrian Australia, decisively. We were at a crucial point in the preparation for London, less than 18 months out and with no head of the Eventing performance program.

Today, we are almost a year on, Prue has taken the bull by the horns and refocused the Australian Eventing High Performance Program. While some results may not have gone to plan, most notably Blenheim, Prue is happy with the progress this year and excited for the future of Australian Eventing. As we look down the barrel of 6 months to the games the Aussie team is looking strong.

The introduction of the National Futures squad is something Prue has driven. This long squad of promising combinations contains a good mix in green horses showing real talent with elite riders, and some less experienced riders on their top mount that are all Normandy 2014 or Rio 2016 potential material. This squad has a number of goals. Firstly, it provides access for the combinations to squad schools, similar to the US Developing Rider list. What is also an interesting point is that this squad provides an introduction to the High Performance Program for the owners of these younger horses. Engaging owners early and involving them in the program is a valuable lesson learned by the Aussie program and will hopefully pay big dividends in the future.

Each of the combinations on the Futures squad has a brief vet check with one of the team vets, is expected to participate in squad training, and has access to sports medicine and sports science support. Also, importantly, these combinations are from around the whole of Australia and our UK based youngsters. Unfortunately there are no US based combinations on the futures squad, although Peter Atkins and Henny are just a good Rolex finish away from making it back onto one of the senior squad lists. Also making waves for Australia in the US is Kadi Eykamp and Double Rivers Dillon who have made it onto the National A Squad (which is similar to the US B squad, confusing I know, we have an Elite and A squad here).
With the Games so close, there is still much competition for the spots on the team. Eight combinations will make it into camp in the UK just a couple of weeks out from London and it is expected that four combinations from back home will make the trip to the UK camp. Personally I see only one guaranteed spot on that plane – Stuart Tinney and Panamera, barring any fitness issues, proved their mettle in Adelaide and almost certainly won’t be asked to run again before the games.

Stuart Tinney and Panamera, winners of the 2011 Adelaide CCI4*

Otherwise there are no standouts and seven remaining camp spots to be filled with great results in the coming months. The competition for spots heats up in late April with Rolex and the Sydney CCI*** running on the same weekend. I expect to see Kadi and Peter making a play for a camp birth by tackling Rolex and a top ten finish. Local combinations back home will tackle the new Mike ES Sydney track which will probably be the toughest three star many of these combinations have seen in years.

The following weekend is Badminton and almost the final roll of the dice for UK based riders. Some will take a no guts no glory approach to team selection by tackling the big four star with a top ten finish almost guaranteeing a camp selection. UK based riders needing a good outing without the four star sting will head to Saumur a couple of weeks after Badminton. No doubt it will be exciting no matter where in the world you are this year and which flag you hoist, there is going to be some great eventing.

Tell you what, I don’t envy the Aussie selectors. Now that is an interesting group. With the resignation from the selection panel last year of Seumas Marwood, due to the fact he is going for selection himself, there was a reshuffle of the Aussie selectors. The new panel consists of a couple of old blokes, Jim Dunn and Barry Roycroft, two men that have been on the Aussie eventing scene more years than anyone cares to count and are well into their sixties. At the other end of the panel table sits two ladies: Prue (just tipping 40) and Georgia Clifford, a current rider in her mid-30s. I can imagine the interesting perspectives and challenges faced by such a dynamic.

The current job at head of the Eventing Performance Program takes Prue only through until London, but that hasn’t stopped her making plans and preparations that will directly influence results in both Normandy and Rio. One of the key initiatives I learned to my surprise was Mike Etherington-Smith. Prue believes very strongly that riders that choose to stay in Australia and compete for their spot on a National team should not be disadvantaged. We have proven time and time again that we breed some of the best horses and riders in the world here in Australia, just look at Boyd and Neville, both Aussie bred.

Boyd and Nev at Burghley last year

One of the challenges of the physical isolation Australia and New Zealand have in remaining competitive back home is that we have a small number of course designers and cost usually prohibits us from bringing overseas designers downunder. With the support of the Australian Government Green and Gold funding program Mike ES has been brought over pre-London for the Sydney event with the goal of increasing our medal prospects in 2012. Longer term it is being negotiated to have Mike involved in Sydney for a few years and use his skills and experience to develop a course designers development program.

The goal of this program is to identify Aussie course designers or potential new recruits (including current elite riders) who will benefit from working closely with Mike ES to hone their craft. This will help to ensure that Australia not only has depth in riders and horses but in course designers so that the tracks in Australia match those from around the world in their toughness and preparation for winning gold. I really love the foresight and long term view that comes with a program like this.

These long term strategies are what I believe make Prue perfect for this role, she can see the forest from the trees and know how hard and how long it takes to develop a combination. She is not fazed by setbacks but sees the whole picture. I asked her about the disastrous show jumping round that Brook Staples and Ever So Clever had at Blenheim, personally I found it a hard mistake to get past, and was amazed they made it on the Futures Squad. Prue had a different opinion, firstly she said Brook has proven in the past he can produce an Olympic four star horse and has a long track record. Very few combinations on any of the lists had a faultless career, certainly show jumping may be a focus for Brook in the future but this one bad day does not define a career.

Far more level headed and strategic in her thinking than most, this balance is great and for me bodes well for Aussie Eventing. That said, the long term role is still on the table, it will be advertised soon and a group of candidates will emerge, Prue will certainly be on that list and in my mind at least is the best candidate for the future of Aussie Eventing.

Will we will bring home gold in London? I hope so, but I know the Kiwis, Poms, Frogs, Krauts, Canucks and Yanks may have something to say about that. Most certainly, the next 6 months of Eventing will be exciting.

Yours in Eventing

Mike ES – Part Two

Mike in front of the famous Sydney 2000 Omega

[Part 1]

Having the chance to meet with Mike ES brings the possibility of not only meeting with one of the world’s most renowned cross country designers but also the CEO of British Eventing, a man who has been involved in the development of the frangible pin and someone who has been at the forefront of frangible fence design for much of the last ten years.

Mike has also played a key part in developing officials from around the world. I had to pick his brain. We face many challenges in our sport and one of those is ensuring we have not only sufficient officials (mostly volunteers) but well trained people with both an aptitude and ability to help our sport grow.

Mike believes we need to invest money in the right people who have a future with the sport. That is a hard line to walk at times as some people have the drive and/or some experience but lack the aptitude to make it further in the sport or just can’t handle the pressure when the proverbial hits the fan. We almost need to have a talent identification program for key official roles and back those identified with sufficient skills and training for the future.

Personally I was very pleased to learn Mike is firmly of the opinion that the current ‘Age Rule for Officials’ (the maximum age for most officials is 70 years old) should not change. There has been a move by some to have this raised, mostly because they are getting close to this and feel they still have much to contribute to the sport. I have no doubt they do but let’s look at the other end of the scale, very few officials around the world are under 50 let alone 40 like myself.

Those of us in this younger age group mostly have full time jobs outside the sport, we have younger families and really can’t afford to personally fund trips around the world in pursuit of gaining skills and accreditation in our sport. The only way this experience happens well is without the guys and girls at the upper end of the age limit doing it for free, with countless weeks of time to travel.

As officials we need to build our experience by working in our backyards, as much as we would love to travel around the world developing our experience financial realities must be taken into account. That means getting our experience closer to home. I can vouch for the value of travelling the world to gain experience, I can also vouch for how hard it is to convince a committee to pay an extra $2000 in airfare for an overseas TD.

The full view of the Sydney 2000 Omega

I must say that Mike ES has been instrumental in making changes to better support his volunteers in the UK. They have quite a different national system in the UK as they have employed Technical Assistants (TA) at all British Eventing (BE) events, so instead of a volunteer TD there is a paid TA. This certainly helps to lift the level of professionalism in the sport.

I couldn’t avoid the issue of safety, in particular frangible devices. I asked Mike specifically about the use of different devices notably the frangible pin, reverse pin, the Mim clip and the ProLog. Mike was adamant that each had a place in the sport, but he remained cautious that we needed to do more testing in the Lab, controlled conditions, before we tested in the competition environment. This is an area where his views deviate from those of FEI Chair Giuseppe della Chiesa.

Mike also believes that innovation is the key. He personally has set the challenge to the wider BE team to bring their ideas to the table. Mike wants at least one new idea on the table and in testing by the end of the year.

I asked Mike about the Industrial Standard for Cross Country Fence Design, he told me it had been completed and was due for release imminently. It was actually ratified at the FEI Bureau meeting in November. It has not been publicly released (despite the fact it came into force on January 1), it has been completed and (the word on the street is that) preliminary testing has failed most devices, what this means I do not know. Shall the standard be revised to meet the current devices or will some current devices be de-certified for use? I do not know. All I know is that those close to the issue are being very tight lipped on the matter.

Mike highlighted the challenge of frangible fences, we cannot make fences that competitors will ride more aggressively as they know they have a get out of jail card. We must build fences that horses and riders alike will respect, that have consequences if broken due to a mistake or poor riding but do not leave the ultimate consequence for those that make a mistake. We all know that Eventing is dangerous, we participate in the sport knowing we could be injured or even die. But it is a fine line for all participants, riders, horses, committees, volunteers and officials. We must do our best every time to avoid these days.

I would like to thank Mike for his time and insight into our sport, he is certainly a man playing a number of critical roles in our sport and I personally relish his closer involvement in Eventing in Australia, the word is, he has committed to working in Australia on at least two projects for the next few years, watch this space.

Yours in Eventing,


Mike ES returns to Sydney

SIEC was home to the Sydney 2000 Equestrian Sports and now plays home to many events year round

Late last year I heard some exciting news for the Sydney International Three Day Event at SIEC. Mike Etherington-Smith (Mike ES) is returning to the home of the Sydney 2000 Olympics to design the CCI3* course. Mike’s return is a full 12 years after he designed the original Olympic Eventing track for the Sydney Games.

Mike first set eyes on the Sydney venue (which alongside Bromont are the only Olympic equestrian venues still used for equestrian sport) in late 1996 with two and half years preparation to the test event set down for a year before the real deal.

Being the busy body that I am I figured Mike ES would be coming to town soon and arranged to meet him during his visit to Sydney in preparation for the late April Sydney CCI event. This year the Sydney event has been moved to much earlier in the season so as to coincide as final preparation for London.

This ditch palisade complete with Aboriginal artwork was part of the 2000 course and hasn’t been used since.

Mike flew into town last week and in under a week has completely redesigned the existing three star track. Although he is utilizing some existing fences and almost no new lanes, I believe almost all of the riders competing at SIEC will not recognize the course. Mike was generous with his time during his visit and we walked around the park where much of the new action will take place but he played most of his design cards very close to his chest.

That said he did tease me with some of the details, the first and most exciting is that there will be a completely new water complex, smack bang in the middle of the action. This water complex is adjacent to the existing bank complex, which itself is only a few years old so I can see it being an interesting factor in all future events at SIEC.

This is not the new water fence but this sunken road complex is also part of the 2000 legacy that remains untouched since the Games

The water complex is literally at the heart of the new course which will be around 6000m (over ten minutes), the course for those that know SIEC will not extend past the cutting. And with the new water only about 10-15 minutes walk from the main arena, this means the spectators can enjoy more of the action without walking for days to get anywhere.

Mike ES, the course designer is a man respected by riders, officials and anyone involved in Eventing for his achievements in the sport. He has designed two Olympic tracks, Sydney and Beijing (Hong Kong), he was the CD at Rolex for 18 years straight and his Kentucky experience culminated in the 2010 WEG.

This still looks great and reminds me of Aussie gold every time I drive past it.

In 2004 Mike was also the TD for the Athens Olympic Games, it could be argued that few people have had such and influence on equestrian sport, certainly Eventing, in the last two decades. He literally wrote the book on XC course design, I know I have an autographed copy of it.

I stalked Mike in Hong Kong to get him to sign my copy of the book, at the time he quipped, “so you’re the other person that bought it”. I asked Mike why he was in Sydney designing courses again when he was retired? He has a real job now, for the last three years Mike has been CEO of British Eventing.

Mike ‘retired’ from full time course design in 2010, at the time, he was tired of spending much of his life on airplanes and in airports. He had had enough, WEG was the perfect excuse to take a break and spend some time sleeping in his own bed while getting his teeth into what was his new job at British Eventing.

A Pony Club clinic was happening on the day I visited SIEC, there is always something happening there

Last year Mike and his wife Sue, took a break their first real holiday in years in New Zealand. Some of his Kiwi Eventing friends convinced him to dip his toe back in the designing waters and today Mike has four designing roles on his books and he looks very happy for it.

As we wandered around the SIEC venue, Mike judiciously steered me away from new fences pegged out on the ground, he really wasn’t prepared to give any secrets away at this stage but he looked invigorated for renewing his relationship with the track that he built for the Olympics back in 2000.

The new track will include a couple of his original Sydney 2000 fences although they will be completely rebuilt thanks to the ravages of 12 years of weather and some Aussie termites. He also commented that our footing was not up to standard and he has left some quite explicit instructions for the grounds staff in the next few months to get the footing up to international standard.

This hammock fence was built for Sydney and has been jumped hundreds of times since, it will remain as part of the new course but will be completely rebuilt.

Mike believes that footing comes before fences, without good footing you cannot have a good XC track, there is no point in having great fences and design if the footing is like concrete.

I asked Mike also about London and his plans to get himself in amongst the action at Greenwich Park? He plans to sit at home with Sue and a glass or two of red wine and watch it on the TV. Even as the CEO of BE has had little to do with the planning for London and after three straight Games working on the inside he is looking forward to enjoying the action, without the responsibility.

Mike and I also chatted about the state of play in Eventing with Officials, training and opportunities and of course I hit him up about safety but I will save that part of our conversation for another day, look out for part two of my chat with Mike ES soon.

Yours in Eventing,


The Badminton Dream

Badminton House

Every Eventer dreams of one day making it to Badminton. Sadly most of us will never get close to competing on the hallowed turf of the Badminton estate. All we can do is hope to go there on a holiday. But a DIY Badminton holiday is not for everyone, you need to find accommodation, hire a car, cope with the traffic, which can be HUGE! Plus ensuring you don’t drink too much Pimms during the day so you can drive back to your hotel after a long day of watching horses or frying the plastic in the trade stands.

Badminton, alongside Burghley and Rolex, are the World Class of Eventing. There is NOTHING quite like sitting in the members tent alongside the main arena. Or walking the huge XC. The Vicorage V needs to be seen to be believed. Feeling the tension in the air as a combination tackles the daunting Huntsman’s Close. The ONLY way to experience Badminton is to be there.

Celebrity spotting at Badminton is easy, here is Eventing extraordinaire Lucinda Green

If only someone could take the hassle out of the trip. The other day I was at the feedstore, a community resource for finding people who can mend your horse rugs, notices for litters of Jack Russell’s (why are these the Eventer’s choice of dog??) and other random stuff that interest people on the land or just plain horse nuts.

I saw this flyer on the counter for a trip to Badminton, fully escorted from the Hunter Valley, where I live. I was intrigued so I picked up the flyer and gave them a call. This small boutique travel agency specializes in small group tours around the world. I rang Jane, who owns and runs Travel and Tour Hunters and suggested we have coffee.

Last year’s winner Mark Todd

Jane and I talked about her passion for traveling and for ensuring her clients get to experience a proper holiday, without the stress and worry, no need to think of the what’s, where’s and how’s of the trip, just enjoying it. The Badminton trip came out of her daughter’s love of horses. Let’s face it, isn’t that how many adults get dragged into the Eventing scene and horses in general.

This Badminton tour is for a maximum of 16 people and is specifically tailored so kids can enjoy it too, so both the big and little horse nuts can enjoy the trip. And for those parents going because their little person wants to go to Badminton, you will be amongst like-minded parents too.

BYO Credit Card and excess baggage

The two week trip leaves from the Hunter Valley, but can be joined in Sydney or even better for those not in Australia, meet the tour in London where the experience begins. Starting the first full day in London with a tour of the Royal Mews (the private stables of the Royal Household in London). The rest of the day is escorted sightseeing in London including the Tower of London.

On the next day you have the option of riding in Hyde Park or heading off on your own for some sightseeing or shopping. Or even taking a wander around the Olympic venues including Greenwich Park the home of the Equestrian sports during the Games. Then the Badminton adventure begins as the tour leaves London via Windsor Castle (one of my favorite places in the UK) to Tetbury, your base for the four days of Badminton.

Each day you will have transport to and from Badminton covered, you don’t even need to worry about how much Pimms you drink as the bus has a driver. For those who cant face two days of dressage or are daunted by the hundreds of trade stands at the Horse Trials, you can explore at your leisure the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon or Bath which are in easy reach of the hotel.

Finally, after the magic of Badminton, seeing another Aussie win, my money is on Chris ‘Burto’ Burton, you will leave Tetbury and head for the New Forest, perhaps via the yard of a top Eventer and have a couple of days relaxing and exploring the countryside. This includes another opportunity to go riding, you can do it on a bike if you don’t want to ride a horse.

We come for the horses, we stay for the shopping

Then you head home or carry on with your holiday elsewhere if you like at the end of the tour. To me this sounds awesome and almost perfect, all of the details have been taken care of, you will have access to great local tour guides on the ground as well as having Jane and possibly even me??? Yes ESJ may come along for the ride too.

Don’t forget being an Olympic year there will be plenty of last minute jostling for a spot on the teams, a top 10 Badminton placing would guarantee almost and fit combination a spot on a team.

There are only 16 spots on this tour and some have sold already. Badminton is just over 3 months away, so don’t delay if you are interested.

Personally, the only thing I would like to add to this trip is to start at Rolex Kentucky, maybe we can convince Jane to do that next year, fingers crossed. So if you want to join the trip or find out more, check it out here, you can meet the group in London, there is a special price excluding airfares for that. You never know I may see you there.

A special thanks to Samantha Clark for letting me use all of her beautiful Badminton 2011 pics in this story.

Yours in Eventing


Location:Badminton or BUST

Remembering Kilfinnie II

Paul and Kilfinnie, Badminton warm up this year

Earlier today I heard of the passing of Kilfinnie II. Kilfinnie was campaigned by Paul Tapner since 2008 and had completed four CCI4* events including Badminton twice. Kilfinnie was listed on the Australian National A Squad with Paul, as his third horse, both Inonothing and Stormhill Michael are on the Elite List, holding squad.

Paul and Kilfinnie at Badminton earlier this year.

I contacted Paul today and he confirmed that Kilfinnie had passed away and issued this brief statement, the thoughts of the Eventing Nation are with Paul, his team and the connections of Kilfinnie II at this time.

Obviously we are all very devastated at losing him and thank everyone who has expressed their concerns to us.

Thank you to Samantha Clark for providing these beautiful photos of Kilfinnie at Badminton.

Samantha caught up with Paul after dressage at Badminton. Here are his thoughts.

Yours in Eventing,


I leave you with a helmetcam of Paul and Kilfinnie:

Paul Tapner and Kilfinnie II helmetcam thanks to Badminton Horse Trials



The amazing Nico Morgan has compiled a photographic tribute to Kilfinnie.

Reflecting on a year gone by

Emma Scott and Mustang at Adelaide

Hey EN, as the year draws to a close we all start to reflect on what we have and have not achieved this year I have to say I have had an amazing year in Eventing. This is also my first year as part of the EN team which has been great fun and despite my physical isolation from everyone else I feel very much part of the team that is Eventing Nation.

I started my year visiting the USA to the Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee Florida, this is a lovely event and returning for my second year I really felt like I was returning home to my big old southern family. This is remarkable as at many events TDs are often treated as a necessary evil.

While on the subject of Red Hills I hear from Director Jane Barron they will definitely be running next year, with a mammoth fundraising effort and little trimming of the fat from the budget it will happen. Unfortunately some of the fat includes overseas officials, so I won’t be back to Red Hills in 2012.
So here is the SHAMELESS plug, any FEI events that are looking for a hardworking and dedicated FEI 1 & 2 Star TD for 2012 drop me an email [email protected], I know that was shameless but I love my Eventing and want to do more around the world.

After Red Hills I spent a day in LA with my mate Susan and saw this Bugatti

Still on Red Hills, Marvin Mayer is Jane’s partner in crime when it comes to event organisation, Marvin is the logistics man that turns the greenfield site into the wonderful horse trials venue that it is. Marvin had a fall in his bathroom back in September and fractured his C6 vertebra, he has spent the last few months in rehab in Atlanta and only returned home to Tally a couple of weeks ago, talk about interesting times. As a rider or a spectator I urge you to support this fantastic early season event and come to Red Hills in March.

While at Red Hills this year I got to meet my mate Samantha Clark and catch up with the big EN Kahuna, John. Both Sam and JT are completely mad, spend way too many waking hours (I say as I write this at 4am) bringing the very best in Eventing from around the globe to you the EN audience. While I saw Samantha running around taking pics and interviewing countless people, the only time I could catch her standing or sitting still was at the local Starbucks uploading video or photos on their free wifi, usually til all hours of the night or any time after 5am.

EN John is even harder to catch and the only time I remember spending more than 3 mins in his presence was when we sat down at the competitors party and had a few beers. Apparently, when you work for EN, sleep is optional, I don’t recall that in my employment contract….. while on that subject, just over a year ago when I agreed to contribute to EN, I committed to one story a fortnight. Since I started I have published almost 100 stories which is more like two a week than two a month.

I have to say while I love covering events, especially when they are big ones like Blenheim or Adelaide, I do love my random ramblings like this one, my favourite is uncovering a big story. For me the pinnacle so far has to be A good place NOT to leave your car keys! the story of Italian WEG horse Iman du Golfe and the Aussie team vest that got stuffed into his gaping wound by Krysten Lituri that saved his life. That story still marvels me and still brings a tear to the eye.

In May I headed off to my favourite Aussie event for the Sydney World Cup round, again I was there as a TD, so I juggled my roles and managed to bring some of this fun event to the EN audience. What I enjoyed most was watching young Clarke Johnstone, win his second World Cup in four weeks (which secured his win of the overall series) on the same horse, with his mate Chris Burton hot on his heals. Both Clarke and Chris are young rising talent that will probably grace their respective national teams as London rolls around next year.

Personally while I would love to see the Aussies win gold next year my head tells me the Kiwis are the ones to beat and they will pip the Poms at the post and come home with gold, the home team will have to settle for silver, who will join those two teams on the podium will be anyones guess.

As the year rolled on I managed to get the scope on Prue Barrett as the Australian Performance Director of Eventing thanks to a chance meeting in the supermarket. Catching Prue so early was great but being quoted by Horse and Hound was almost as thrilling, I mean its H&H, the magazine made famous by Notting Hill (you know I’m kidding don’t you?).


To be honest as the year rolled on I had one thing on my mind, Burghley. Every Eventer dreams of making it to Burghley and Badminton, I was pretty stoked to be heading to the UK for two weeks of Eventing first at Burghley and then Blenheim, man I have a cool job sometimes. My bucket list now includes doing Rolex and Badminton back to back in two weeks! Anyone?

The talented and ever so generous Nico Morgan

The Burghley estate is something to behold, the XC was enormous and huge and bloody big! But the fences were only part of the equation, the rolling hills and natural terrain make it the toughest cross country course in the world. If you haven’t been there it is hard to imagine. To be on the back of a horse that completes Burghley must be the most amazing feeling.

Seeing the class of the world’s best run up close and personal was a privilege, William Fox-Pitt’s win was brilliant and for his sixth Burghley win was a stunning achievement. I had a little cry when I saw Neville, I didn’t ever think he would make it there let alone finish in seventh place, yes SEVENTH, just three months after the fire. That is one tough horse, must be the Aussie thoroughbred breeding.

Neville Bardos and his girls, my favorite moment of the year

During the week at Burghley, I got to catch up with Samantha again, she had taken over a corner of the press tent and again was working all hours of the night and day, good thing the press tent had 24 hour security.

Following Burghley, I walked the cross country course at Greenwich park. I must say I wasn’t expecting much, the worlds press had done such a good job of talking down the park as a venue, I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having spoken to a couple of riders after the test event I was expecting it to be tight, Adelaide here is tight with narrow lanes. Well, Greenwich will be very tight, narrow lanes, crowds 20 deep the whole way round and twists, turns and LOTS of terrain. Nippy little horses that don’t mind some atmosphere will be the choice on XC day for London, big horses will find the course hard work. I can’t wait to watch it on TV. Cue 🙁 sad face, unless someone pays for my airfare I won’t be at London.

Blenheim was brilliant fun, this was my first event overseas where I was there purely as a journalist. The press at Blenheim were great fun and there was lots of banter both inside the tent and out and about. Let me tell you, covering a big international event on your own is tough. Most teams have two or three people, one shooting pics or videos, one writing and another covering things like social media. To do all that as one person is tough and I dip my hat to Samantha and John who do it regularly and do it well.

Piggy French and her beautiful smile

The highlight of my Blenheim experience was the Puissance, great fun and a nice distraction from the otherwise very serious business of the event.
As the year rolled to a close I headed down to South Australia for the Adelaide event, this is a unique event in our calendar and it was great to be there for the second year covering it for EN. Having the changes in the venue meant that the press room was right in the thick of the action.

Adelaide is particularly dear to Aussie Eventers and is probably the only event in Australia that gets people hopping on a plane to be part of the action. Apart from accidentally insulting Clayton Fredericks and the Southern Star team on day one (I was in a sleep deprived, stupor), the rest of the weekend was great fun and ran to plan.

My second favorite moment of the year, the return of Festy

Christmas is fast approaching and this week Santa delivered an early present to Australia’s top home based Eventers. Mike ES is returning to Sydney, 12 years after he designed the original Sydney Olympic track on the very same course he will be back in Sydney to design the Sydney CCI course. I have more on this and don’t want to spoil it yet, you will have to wait until the new year.

In the meantime I am starting to build a ‘To Do’ list of events for 2012, Sydney CCI, Eventing Equestriad (this is the unique event run by Shane & Nikki Rose and their team) congratulations also to Shane and Nikki who are expecting their first child just a couple of weeks before their event, London (who wants to pay for my airfare???), another event in the USA and finally Adelaide. In between that I hope to TD at some local events at home next year as I neglected local events this year.

Blenheim’s press room fuel source

One final note, to all the Organising Committees in the big wide world, you know what makes a pleasant event for the journos, photographers, bloggers and everyone else covering your event great? Surprisingly, it isn’t the chocolate or soft drink you provide to help fuel the corps (although this rates a close second), it is the internet speed! Slow internet is almost as universal as Eventers drinking beer, I am yet to hear a journo or photographer claim that the internet was too fast, only that they spent endless extra hours trying to upload on slow internet!

Have a great festive season EN, I can’t wait for next year and the possibilities it will bring. Be good to your ponies, your parents and partners (someone has to pay the bills).

Yours in Eventing,


The new adventures of Hamish

Hamish and Bols

The final events in Aussie Eventing calendar took place last weekend at Berrima and Lakes and Craters. Traditionally Lakes and Craters is the last event in the year and always proves a tough test as a CCI3* event, Berrima had also moved to this date due to a washout earlier in the season.

I was able to keep a quiet eye on the progress of the weekend thanks to Christine Bates (@ozbatesy) as the lone tweep at the Lakes and Craters event. Christine was following on from her success with the lovely Delago who won the CIC2* class at Adelaide just a few short weeks ago.

Christine stepped Delago up to the CCI3* class and came in second just behind Adelaide CCI4* winner Stuart Tinney with his recently acquired mount Pluto Mio. A great way for both Christine and Stuart to top off what has been a fantastic season for both of them.

Anyhow, I was scouring the results and something else caught my eye, Hamish Cargill (yes, that Hamish) had won his first ever FEI event winning the CCI1* class, just managing to stay ahead of girlfriend (not yet Fiancé, I checked ladies) Annabel ‘Bols’ Armstrong. Both Hamish and Bols managed to finish on their dressage score which is always a fine achievement.

I decided this was as good excuse as any to catch up with Hamish, check on his amazing year and check out how Tiger is going.

Hamish and Tiger at Rolex

A quick recap first, Hamish took the plunge earlier this year and entered Tiger into Rolex, packed up half his gear and jumped on a plane for the adventure of a lifetime. Rolex didn’t quite go to plan, they finished but after two stops on XC the score looked more like a decent cricket innings than an Eventing score.

There is no doubt that Hamish enjoyed his US experience, he learnt a lot about himself and his horse during that trip, and at that point in time wasn’t sure where he would end up so left Tiger in the States, trusting others to look after his number one horse while he and some irradiated gear flew home to Australia.

At some stage, probably halfway round the Rolex show jumping track, Hamish decided he would Fedex Tiger on to the UK to his mate Chris Burton, hop on a plane and have a crack at Burghley too, why not? Some might say he was mad, having taken on Rolex and completed but doing it the hard way, to then go on to Burghley after having given the horse three month’s break. WOW! you have to love his commitment to the sport.

Let’s be honest, if you had a horse and a few bucks in your back pocket from selling another horse earlier, what better way to spend the dollars than having a crack at two legs of the Rolex Gland Slam.

Hamish headed to the UK in early July and took Tiger to Le Pin au Haras as a warm up for Burghley and did alright finishing mid field, not bad for a combination that hadn’t competed since Rolex in April. So they headed off to Burghley, the biggest most relentless cross country course in the world. The short version is that Tiger re-injured a tendon about two thirds of the way round Burghley and they caught a ride back to the stables in the horse ambulance.

Tiger is now well on his way to recovery and is almost home spending his last few (very expensive) days in quarantine in Sydney. Tiger will be home on the farm before Christmas. Hamish is planning to take him to see vet extraordinaire Derek Major. He is hopeful that once fully recovered Tiger may make a great schoolmaster for a younger rider at the lower levels.

In the meantime, Hamish has been reassessing his personal goals and plans. He has a smaller team of horses, now down to three competitive horses, has given up most of his teaching and as of this week has a day job. Yes, a proper job where he goes to the office, works a full week and gets a pay check at the end, a real novelty for most professional riders.

Hamish still has his sights firmly planted on that elusive four star win, preferably one where they hand out gold medals and have coloured rings. In the meantime he is settling in to his new career as a professional writer.
Unfortunately for us, not in the equestrian media area, nobody has come waving a big wad of cash under his nose to travel the world and cover eventing (I wish too). He is working for an agency specialising in crafting messages. I wonder if his new employers have seen the out-takes from Hamish and Dave’s Kentucky Adventures or great literary prose such as this example from
While rearing on the end of the reins was a new but manageable trick, what really upset me was the volley of snot bullets that he fired into my face and body as he did so. There I was, at one of the biggest events in the world trying desperately to wipe a wad of goopy green Tiger slime out of my eyes as I approached the Ground Jury.
Luckily he trotted well because I could barely see the strip through the green haze.

Hamish with snot and Tiger

That is the perfect fodder for any new employer, who needs to go trolling through your Facebook page when you have such a public body of artistic genius. Hamish sees this new path as the next step in his journey. He still dreams one day of sitting side by side with Lucinda Green calling the Badminton Radio feed or the Olympic Games (in between winning a gold medal of course).

In the meantime he has some young horses to concentrate on including Tahoe who was just named on the LOOOOOOOONG List for developing combinations. He now has to fit his horses in early in the morning, so I expect he will be working under lights from now on.

I just hope that he doesn’t suffer a heart attack next week when he receives his pay check and realises that he can get paid to write and that working a normal 38 hour week like us normal people is much easier than teaching 10 year old kids to ride trot poles and 55 year old mums to sit up straight and ride with your heels down.

I know this isn’t the last we will hear from Hamish and he may still one day just pack up and follow his mate Burto to the UK, although I think Bols may have something to say about that. That said, she may be the one dragging him off to the UK as she pursues her riding career, while Hamish sits in tweed and calls the event???
Oh, I found this gem, thank you Mr Google.

Yours in Eventing,


Aussie Training list announced

Seumas Marwood and Wild Oats

Today we have the announcement of the longest, long list I have ever seen. There are many names here I expected to see including combinations on the way to the top like Christine Bates and her two mounts Adelaide Hill and Delago. I am also pleased to Sammi McLeod back in the spotlight following many years away from the bright lights of the high performance squads.

I am very surprised to see Brook Staples and Ever So Clever on the list, I honestly thought that after their disastrous show jumping round at Blenheim earlier this year they would have been banished to Siberia. Apparently not.

Here is the full press release.

Equestrian Australia announces Eventing Futures Squad

Equestrian Australia (EA) is proud to announce the first Eventing National Futures Squad.

Hundreds of horse and rider combinations were assessed at Talent Identification Days conducted in each state and in the United Kingdom in 2011 to select the 2012 National Futures Squad.

The National Performance Director and National Selectors selected the squad based on criteria expected to predict future success at elite levels of international competition.

The High Performance Program introduced the National Futures Squads for Dressage, Jumping and Eventing as a vital element of the Talent Identification Program. The National Futures Squad is designed to provide access to the High Performance Program before horses and riders are at a level of training and competition which would make them eligible for selection on National A or Elite Squads.

The squads provide an unparalleled opportunity to introduce promising horse/rider combinations to the High Performance Program, the National Selectors and National Performance Director.

Futures Squad members will receive access to clinics designed to assist in tracking performance, plus veterinary, sports science and sports medicine support.

High Performance Manager, Brett Mace said, “The National Futures Squads represent a significant expansion of the High Performance Program. It is central to the National Pathways, and allows talented horses and riders to access the development opportunities within the High Performance Program”.
Congratulations to the 2012 Futures Squad (Eventing) – listed below.

Rider Horse State
Aaron Moyes Tiger Moth NSW
Annabel Armstrong Bubble and Squeak NSW
Annabel Armstrong Jack in a Box NSW
Christine Bates Delago NSW
Christine Bates Adelaide Hill NSW
Craig Barrett Sandhills Brillaire NSW
Emma Mason Poker Face NSW
George Sheridan What an Ace NSW
Hamish Cargill Tahoe NSW
Jade Findlay Bloomers Twinkletoes NSW
Jade Findlay Frontier Psychaiatrist NSW
Rachel Lee Baillieu NSW
Shane Rose Virgil NSW
Stevie-Jade Shakoff Tickety Boo NSW
Emma Dougall Kelecyn Ice Age QLD
Kevin McNab Casperelli QLD
Kevin McNab Kelecyn Cognac QLD
Mattea Davidson Fairbanks Cargo QLD
Fairlie Taylor Edward Bounce SA
Jade Kluske Lakota SA
Rebekah Foster Carisbrooke Legs Eleven SA
Rebecca White Spy Master TAS
Amanda Ross William Wordsworth VIC
Edith Kane Serious Business VIC
Emily Anker Bvlgari VIC
Murray Lamperd Under the Clocks VIC
Seumas Marwood Wild Oats VIC
Tarryn Proctor ESB Irish Quest VIC
Will Enzinger Wenlock Aquifer VIC
Will Enzinger Wyuna Clear Image VIC
Will Enzinger Ruban Son VIC
Belinda Isbister Holy Bruce WA
Jessica Manson Legal Star WA
Sonja Johnson Belfast Mojito WA
Tegan Lush Tempus Fugit WA
Andrew Hoy Rutherglen UK
Andrew Hoy Cheeky Calimbo UK
Bill Levett Shanndondale Titan UK
Bill Levett Silk Stone UK
Bill Levett Baggrave Summertime UK
Bill Levett Improvise UK
Bill Levett Ballymore Rich Cat UK
Brook Staples Ever so Clever UK
Catherine Burrell Urzan UK
Clayton Fredericks Mr Sydney Rocks UK
Clayton Fredericks Macarthur UK
Clayton Fredericks Sorrento III UK
Lucinda Fredericks Latina 43 UK
Matt Ryan Bonza Bilbarin UK
Matt Ryan Bonza Rusty May UK
Paul Tapner Wickstead Didgeridoo UK
Paul Tapner Kilronan UK
Sam Griffiths Mumbo Jumbo IV UK
Sam Griffiths Paulank Brockagh UK
Sam Griffiths Real Dancer UK
Samantha Seaton Earls Grove UK
Sammi McLeod Kintara UK
Sammi McLeod Shannondale Santiago UK
Sammi McLeod LG Wellington UK

Yours in Eventing.


The Horsemen, in all their glory

This is the top hole, it is 1.9m (6 foot 3 inches), Evan Leuret

These guys are nicknamed the Flying Frenchmen but they do have a Italian boy amongst them so they are called The Horsemen. They are Gerry Dente (ITA), Evan Leuret (FRA) and Bastien Bracq (FRA).  We thought they deserved their own post.

I took lots of pics and some video, much of it is of dubious quality as I was unprepared, that said, in the name of art I have included almost all and the video is unedited. ENJOY! (contains a mild warning, these boys are wearing outfits that leave little to the imagination).

[Photo Gallery]

Yours in eventing,


A picture tells a thousand words

Stuart Tinney and Panamera look great in Red, photo thanks to Toni-anne Collins from An Eventful Life

This is my first event shooting with my new camera, I deliberately downgraded to a Nikon D3100 for one reason, it is small and light.  I have also picked up a small and lightweight lens to go with it. What it means is my whole kit for bringing an event like Adelaide weighs just over 4 kilos or about 9 pounds. Let me tell you I had lots of pro photographers jealous that my kit didn’t break my back.

Anyhow I had a fantastic time in Adelaide, I hope you enjoyed the coverage. To those that commented, thank you, my apologies I haven’t responded, I do appreciate your thoughts.

Italian Fabio Magni won the respect of the Aussie crowd riding Stuart Tinney’s former mount Watermark Greyson

Christine Bates and the lovely Adelaide Hill, surely they must be in contention for London.

Kevin McNab and Clifton Pinot

Keira Byrnes and Fox Hill completed their first four star

Kiwi Chef Eric Duvander, Shane Rose and TD Alec Lochore, discussing what colour Lycra goes best with Shane’s eyes when he takes up vaulting

The Heritage Grandstand packed to the gills

The USA’s Christan Trainor with All Purpose Brown completed and finished in 27th on 90.90

My apologies, I don’t know who this is but love the scene, CCI2* class

Chris ‘Burto’ Burton back home, catching up with mates, Rock Star look? or Male Model?

Shane Rose and Taurus, look carefully was this the moment the girth and breastplate separated?

Nat Blundell and Algebra finished in 4th place on 55.90

Megan Jones and Kirby Park Allofasudden, an Aussie OTTB

Megan Jones and Kirby Park Irish Jester, was this their last four star?

Adam Benson and Enthusiast finished in 20th place on 142.30

Megan Jones and Kiwi Chef Eric Duvander, I hope he isn’t trying to negotiate a defection?

Stuart Tinney and Emma Mason walking the course

Shane Rose and Sam Lyle, Eventer and Showjumping coach

Finally I have wifi and here are the belated videos I promised, first up Christan Trainor after XC.

Next, The Horseman Team, these guys are brilliant, this footage is from Saturday, it is unedited, in the name of art. I missed their Sunday demo, but the word is they took on the four star track, after putting it up four holes (20cm or 8 inches), hopefully we can find a copy of that. [Click here]

Craig Barrett being presented with the Anna Savage Memorial Medal for Best and Fairest Rider in Australia 2011

F1 Pharinelli, winner of the Peppermint Grove Memorial Trophy for best Australian based horse of the year, with rider Emma Mason, Greg and Gill Rolton

Yours in Eventing


A look back at Adelaide Sunday

I have just spent the last few hours crossing half of Australia and am almost home. Here’s a quick look back at how Sunday at Adelaide unfolded.

We started early with the CIC2* class trot up, instead of dumping all the pics here I have dropped them into Picasa and linked back here. This was not my favorite item of clothing in the CIC:

The rest of the CIC pics are here.

CIC2* Trot Up Adelaide 2011

Following the CIC we had the CCI two star, this class was bigger and had some more interesting outfits. This pic of the newly married Emma Bishop is one of my favorites, I know I haven’t captioned any shots, I haven’t had a chance.

The rest are here. CCI2*

CCI2* Trot Up At Adelaide 2011

Finally we finished with the CCI4* class, I really think that Tim Boland looked the pick of the bunch.

The rest of the four star trot are here.

CCI4* Trot Up At Adelaide 2011

I know I have been promising nearly naked European men for a whole 24 hours now and I will get to the videos tomorrow but in the meantime, here are the stills. (A minor warning, there is nothing left to the imagination).

Prepare yourself for The Horseman Team.

The Horseman

Finally for today, I cannot finish without making mention of Shane Rose’s win in the CCI2* class. His young horse Virgil, yes the one without the boots, jumped amazingly in the show jumping. He finished with a double clear as did the second placed Sonja Johnson and third placed Annabel Armstrong.

Full CCI2* results here.

Take a look at Virgil getting some AIRTIME!!!!

Well EN, it has been fun, I’m stuffed. I will bring you more in the next few days. Goodnight!

Yours in Eventing,


Stuart Tinney is the 2011 Australian Three Day Event Champion

Stuart Tinney and the beautiful mare Panamera

Earlier today I heard someone remark to Karen Tinney that Panamera seems to have been the bridesmaid in the shadow of Vettori. Well, today her foot perfect jumping round brought her into the spotlight. There is no doubt that together Stuart and the mare make a formidable combination.

With classic Tinney mettle he entered the arena in fourth place and produced a double clear putting the pressure on the top three. Emma Mason entered just ahead of Stuart and unfortunately dropped a rail to move below Stuart.

Sonja Johnson was next in on her striking thoroughbred Parkiarrup Illicit Liason and again dropped a rail. This mistake dropped them into third with overnight leader and winner of the CCI 2* class Shane Rose and Taurus entered the ring a full two rails in front of Tinney.

Then the unthinkable happened, the rails started falling and Shane’s lead had been eroded early in the course. On closer inspection it was easy to see why Taurus wasn’t listening to Shane. The breastplate had broken and was swinging between Taurus’ forelegs. Shane ended up with four rails, and now owns Australia’s most expensive breastplate. The drop from 1st to 5th cost him $27,000 in prize money.

Shane Rose, Taurus and that breastplate

Much more to report but I have to jump on a plane so I will love you and leave you EN. Full results here. Top ten below.

Just for Coren and Samantha.

Yours in Eventing,


Sunday morning CIC2* at Adelaide and more XC pics

Christine Bates and Delago winners of the CIC2* class

Jade Finlay and As Tully in second place in the CIC2*

Christine Bates smashed the CIC2* field winning with 46.70 a full 16.50 penalties in front of second placed Jade Finlay who moved up from fifth after her double clear round.

Here are the full results from the CIC2*.

Below are some more pics from yesterday’s cross country. The first is Emily Anker and Keniski–they had a fall later in the course and Keniski was transported to hospital with a laceration on an old wound. The word this morning is that Keniski is recovering well and didn’t require surgery.

More XC Pics from Sat:

Emily Anker and Keniski

There was lots of movement in the four star leader board after three different protests. Starting at the top of the leader board, Stuart Tinney moved into fourth place on Panamera with 51.30, after his time was adjusted due to being stopped on XC. Next was Blair Richardson was reinstated after initially being eliminated. Blair now lies in 11th place on 83.50.

Christine Bates moved down to 14th place after having a stop added to her score, she is now on 86.60. Full scores here.

Unfortunately, the wifi is playing games, ask Samantha Clark about dodgy wifi at events. This means you will have to wait for videos. I have one of Christan Trainor and of course the barely covered flying boys.

Bryce Newman and Bates Trademark

Emma Dougall and Kelecyn Ice Age

Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill

Jester and his ice water bath


Bates Trademark

CD Wayne Copping, Emma Mason, Shane Rose, Sonja Johnson and Event Director Gill Rolton on Saturday

Yours in Eventing,


Adelaide CCI4* Cross Country

A tender moment between Megan Jones and Jester (Festy)

An eventful day of cross country at Adelaide has resulted in some big changes on the leader board. Overnight leader Megan Jones dropped out of contention with a stop at the double of ducks. I spoke with Megan after cross country and she blamed herself for riding too hard. They got in too deep at the bounce and glanced off with nowhere else to go. That said, Megan is ecstatic that Jester who has been out of competition for over a year had a great round and “felt like he had never been out of work”.

Shane Rose and Taurus in the lead after XC

All horses and riders are home safe and sound. The new leader is Shane Rose who now leads in both the CCI4* and CCI2* classes, Shane and Sonja Johnson who shot up from 11th to second were the only double clears for the day. Of the 31 starters 21 made it home, only 8 picked up jumping penalties but time was elusive for 19 combination.

Emma Scott and Mustang

Weather conditions were almost perfect with an overcast day, a light breeze helped to keep the temperature nice. We had a couple of falls on course, including what initially looked bad with Crystal Conning taking a huge tumble down the hill after the double ducks but after a few minutes Crystal walked off smiling.

Crystal Conning after her dramatic fall

The 10 min 47 second track certainly tested the endurance of the horses and in the 10 minute box many looked pretty tired but perked up really quickly after a good dousing in ice water.

Here is the leader board after XC. Full results here.

More pics below. I also have video and lots of pics of the flying Frenchman doing their human show jumping, I will post that separately, they are mostly in their underwear.

Megan Jones and Jester

Christine Bates and Adelaide Hill

Emma Scott – Mustang

Emma Mason and F1 Pharinelli in third place after XC

Blair Richardson and Spend Up

Fabiola Magni (ITA) and Watermark Greyson

I just love this shot

Tim Boland and GV Billy Elliot

More to come guys including the Frenchman in their underwear.

Yours in Eventing


CCI2* XC at Adelaide

Wendy Schaeffer and Sun Showers

Overnight leader Shane Rose and Virgil have maintained their lead after cross country, with Kevin McNab hot on his heels. Only 0.8 penalties separate the leaders, following their double clear rounds. Sonja Johnson moved up four places with a double clear to jump into third position after XC.

Shane Rose was blazingly fast around the course carving up the 9min 25sec course in just 8min 37sec, that is an astonishing 38 seconds under time, WOW! Time isn’t that easy, plenty of riders are getting penalties, I guess that is just Shane, he maintains a fantastic rhythm all the way around and doesn’t waste a metre. UPDATE: I spoke with Shane and he doesn’t believe his time is correct, he had himself about 10 seconds under the clock

Here are the results after XC for the CCI2*

Shane Rose – Virgil 50.40
Kevin McNab – Kelecyn Cognac 51.20
Sonja Johnson – Belfast Mojito 55.10
Luke Jones – Charlatan 55.40
Sappho Ranson-Elliott – Bonza Troy 57.90

More here

Kevin McNab and Kelecyn Cognac, in second place after XC over fence four which was highly influential claiming a number of stops and at least one elimination.

Shane Rose and Virgil in the lead after XC

The water looks magnificent

Kevin McNab and Kiwi Chef Eric Duvander

One of the many hard working volunteers

Emma Bishop and Cassilis Park Pendragon

Lots of cooling in the humid weather

Cassie Webb and Dutch Determination both well after a fall on the flat

Four star has started so I am off.

Yours in Eventing,


Cross country morning at Adelaide

TDs Geoff Sinclair, Alec Lochore and Tony Walls have figured out the box office has aircon, they have done a trade for the day with the box office crew.

There is always a feeling of excitement on XC day. Here is some of the early morning action. XC kicks off with the CCI2* class, then CCI4* and finally the CIC2* class. Lots of action I will bring it to you all day long. Live scoring can be found here.

This is one way to walk the course

Fence one now in position

Fence judges in early ready for a big day

Aren’t they all?

This fence has had a reprint in more ‘corporate’ colors

Looks great

Sonja Johnson does it herself.

Sonja Johnson ready for XC

Clayton Fredericks receiving instructions from Sam Griffiths

A nice youngster for Clayton

Double trouble, Clayton and Sam

Here is a video of Clayton training Sam.

Finally trailblazer Isabel English at fence one.

Yours in Eventing,