On the southwestern coast of Australia, you’ll find the city of Perth. It’s 1,670 miles (a mere 28-hour drive) from Adelaide, home of the country’s only five-star event, but there’s no dearth of eventing in Western Australia as you may be tempted to think based on that sole statistic.
Within an hour’s driving distance of the city, you’ll find venues for eight recognized events on Equestrian Australia’s eventing calendar. You’ll find five more events within a two hour drive. With that knowledge, it makes sense for Perth to be the perfect central location for an event showcasing the talent of Western Australian event riders.
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The winner of the Grand Prix Class for 2019 is Sarah Dawson, and her Off the Track Thoroughbred 'Imposing'! Sarah is based in regional WA, and her success with 'Imposing' is a huge win for Western Australian eventing, and OTT horses at Equestrian in the Park. Congratulations Sarah! 📷 @lukebakerphoto @sarahdawson2431 @offthetrackwa
On November 30th, Pearllargo Equestrian In The Park took shape for the sixth year at Taylor Reserve in the city of Victoria Park, just a few minutes south of Perth proper. The annual event holds two eventing classes, the Grand-Prix Class (1.15m) and the Diamond Class (1.05m), one show jumping class, and a popular fashion competition for spectators.
This year’s event drew a record number of entrants with 65 horse and rider pairs in the Grand-Prix class and 25 in the Diamond Class. Among entrants, two big-name riders were invited to participate this year: none other than William Fox-Pitt and UK-based Aussie Sam Griffiths. Sam also participated in the 2018 event alongside Sir Mark Todd, who won the Grand-Prix class last year. Invited riders always serve as a special highlight for spectators, and past participants also include Chris Burton, Clayton Fredericks, Harry Meade, and Bettina Hoy.
In addition to event riders taking center stage, Equestrian in the Park partners with local OTTB rehoming organization, Off The Track WA, to shine the spotlight on OTTBs and for good reason — over half the entrants in each of the eventing classes were off-track Thoroughbreds. This local news video gives a nice overview of the event:
The thoroughbreds are getting ready to hit the banks of the Swan River tomorrow, but they won't be racing… #10Sport
Posted by 10 News First Perth on Friday, November 29, 2019
Top honors went to Sarah Dawson and Imposing, an 11-year-old off-track Thoroughbred gelding (Saxon – Kings Pleasure, by Kings Theatre), who won the Grand-Prix class. Sarah has been the gelding’s sole owner and rider throughout his FEI career. While they were less than a second slower than William Fox-Pitt who rode Max Almighty, a 15-year-old ISH x WB (Ali Kingston – Florence Court, by Kiltoghert Casey) owned by Kirsten Twining, who ultimately placed second, they were the only pair in the jump off to only knock a single pole.
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What an amazing moment, Olivia Shore and Legal Star are our 2019 Diamond Class winners! This makes it back to back wins for Liv, who won last year on Eliva Massimo! It's also the second win for well loved crowd favourite Trumby the Brumby, who won with Jess Manson in 2015. 📷 @lukebakerphoto @liv_shore.eventing
Looking to the Diamond Class, junior riders took home the top three placings, with Oliva Shore clinching first placed aboard Legal Star, a Thoroughbred-cross gelding (Ringwould Legality – Comet), to make it back-to-back wins at Equestrian in the Park. Oliva’s Diamond Class win last year was aboard Elvia Massimo, an off-track Thoroughbred. Legal Star has also now won the class twice, previously in 2015 with owner Jessica Manson. Legal Star had also contested the Adelaide five-star with Jessica in the irons that year, prior to Olivia taking the ride.
Prior to the competition on Saturday, William and Sam also spent a few days teaching clinics in the park. Hear what Sam had to say about his recent time visit to Australia:
Sam Griffiths and William Fox-Pitt are here in Perth! They rode their competition mounts last night, and are busy teaching today!
Posted by Equestrian In The Park on Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Local Pony Clubbers were also treated to autographs from William for their volunteer efforts throughout the event:
Posted by Equestrian In The Park on Saturday, November 30, 2019