Sit Tight Radio dusted off the camper trailer and headed off down the Hume for the second time in as many weeks. Arriving at “Lynton”, where undoubtedly the cream of the Aussie eastern states’ eventing meet to shoot it out. The anticipation levels were through the roof to see horse and rider combinations having their last full hit out before The Australian International 3DE next month.
Katie Henderson takes the reins for our event wrap up, take it away Hendo!
We set up in our broadcast box (cab of a Landcruiser ute) with the 1, 2 and 3 Star dressage arenas laid out in front and the heater blasting. Huge numbers in the 1 star meant some tests had been completed Friday arvo in beautiful October weather which was conducive to well-behaved ponies but the sudden drop in temperature on Saturday meant tails were up, nostrils flared and some riders had a very panicked look on their faces.
Stand outs in the 3 Star were STR favourites and 4 star bound Katie Taliana on Trevalgar II (Marco to his mates) for a super display of sand (cow paddock) dancing, South Aussie resident Megan Jones on KP Impress(Candy) and Wallaby Hill 3DE mover and shaker, Alex Townsend on Parodie (Pie). These fine ladies filled 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively when the score sheets were posted with pre- event favourite Hazel Shannon and Clifford (known to his mates as Clifford) breathing down their necks in 4th. An occasional member of the commentary team, Nina Clarke partnering LP Boudin (AKA Beau) put their best hoof forward on a chilly day of dressage and being from a cold part of the world in Victoria they probably only had 1 layer of thermal undies on.
The 2 Star saw Central Coast resident Emma Mason and her new steed Warrego Marco Polo in poll position and the 1 star was headed by the Werribee 1 Star winner Grace Kay and Celerity Park Faberge on a mind-boggling 78%.
Whilst the big kids were doing some square dancing there were also 6 other arenas being patronised by 3 divisions of 105cm and 3 of 95cm. Lunchtime saw the 1 Star show jump in the main arena and the 105cm in the sand arena in the middle of the private gallop track. Mid-afternoon the 95cm took to xc and the 2 Star show jumping kicked off in the main arena so we turned the Landcruiser around and set up shop to keep a keen eye on the coloured poles with Victorian Asha Warnock as guest co-commentator. The places were certainly shuffled around considerably in the 2 Star in this phase as a number of partnerships fell foul of the double and the treble that ran downhill towards the trade stands.
After a great night catching up with eventing ‘family’, coffee was consumed and we set up the STR commentary box on the prime piece of real estate that is the road crossing at Lynton in readiness for the xc day ahead. This is one of the best spectator viewing areas anywhere. Watching from here is like shopping at Ikea, you just don’t know where to look as there is so much going on. Whilst the 105cm were making their way round the xc course at 1 min intervals the 3 Star show jumping was also taking place where thankfully there was less excitement than in the 2 star and placings weren’t shuffled quite as much as a pack of cards.
Star cross country saw quite a few combinations have problems at the big roll top on the 1st cross of Lynton Lane. This is probably one of the most imposing fences you will find at 1 Star level and certainly tests the mettle of horse and rider. Other jumps to cause problems were an arrowhead after the Trakhener where dressage leader Grace Kay had an uncharacteristic runout and fence 4 & 5 the sunken road early in the track. Time penalties were the main cause of movement on the leader board and once the scores were up it was almost local rider and all round nice guy Jack Hayden on his new ride Monte Argo who got the rug.
Feature pic of Jack Hayden looking fabulous, thanks Jess Kennedy for the pic.
Fingernails were chewed and chatter was reaching fever pitch as the 2 Star horses could be seen swarming the xc warmup. The crowd at the lane crossing was like a mosh pit and it was standing room only on the tray of the cruiser. Even Karen Tinney had a hard time finding a possie on it for a video vantage point. From a field of 37 starters, around 30 tackled the xc which encourages bold, forward riding and if either you or your horse is a bit iffy you will be found out at the double of roll tops on the downhill side of Lynton Lane. 5 combinations had trouble here including dressage leader Emma Mason. We also saw some masterful riding and vocal encouragement by Andrew Cooper on the eventual winner Darwin Park Echo, some holy s#&t moments by a couple of riders and lots of ooohs and aaaahs from the crowd. Truly worth a mention would be the diminutive Incy Wincy Spider and his partner Hannah Maclean, this little horse (all 14.3 of him) Sit Tight has been in awe of him competing Melbourne CCI 1 star and here he is having a red-hot go at 2 Star and succeeding! Go the “not a tarantula” love it!! Making the 2-day road trip from Queensland worth-while Mattea Davidson rode 2 horses in this grade and a youngen in the 95cm even more importantly her working student Courtney Stubblefield riding her own Wallawest Kaos brought the rent a crowd from outwest NSW, good old Condobolin to cheer them on. Mattea’s lovely mare Kinnordy Gwendolyn took the red rosette home in the doing, even more impressively Mattea rode in her first World Cup show jumping contest at Tamworth last week! Another fav Carlene Barton (mother of Olivia ‘Mark Todd’ Barton) deserves special mention for her incredible stick ability at the 2nd crossing of Lynton Lane when her mount resembled a snake between the closely related 4 elements. He slithered one way then the other but somehow was steered between all 4 sets of flags to the cheers of all.
Now on to 3 Star. The pinnacle, the O.D.E eventing version of The Everest. Could we take any more excitement? Yes we could! The trailblazer really made Lynton 3 star look like a walk in the park was Jess Rae’s scopey, homebred Regardez Moi gelding Rascal. Victorians Yona Lloyd and Seargent Crisp looked amazing as did Amanda Ross’s ‘black bat’ Koko Popping Candy. Fence 5, the platypus-like carved log sited in the shallows of a dam is where a few popped off over the shoulder and 2 had long walks back to the truck park to round up their AWOL horses. The theme of women from ‘way out west where the rain don’t fall’ was taken over to the 3 Star as well. Kate Burnheim, born and raised in the real outback (as in Coonamble), new mum and daughter of eventing legend Susie Burnheim made the biggest move placing wise with a double clear cross country to move from 30th after dressage to finish 9th. P.S Kate and her home-bred Equinox having their second swing at 3 Star to boot!! Katie Taliana and Marco really ignited the afterburners to record the fastest and one if the most stylish rounds of the day. Hazel and Clifford though were the real stars, making sure they retain favouritism for Adelaide International 4 star by a super clear and under time cross country to take the win for the second year in succession.
Sit Tight Radio will only just have time to wash off its poultice and recharge the Equissage before the tapering begins for its Adelaide campaign. We will be there broadcasting live from the get go, the 1st trot up. To avoid missing a minute of the action make sure you download the app if you haven’t already and sign up and for all those interested we will have a tipping contest, keep your ears pricked for Adelaide mid November.