Rain, mud and wind did not deter the eight Aussie riders that fronted up to Mannheim last weekend, for our first selection event. There were some top quality horses well presented by their riders.
The arenas stood up well to the pouring rain the night before and during the Grand Prix. Poor Lyndal Oatley got the brunt of the bad weather. The skies opened and dumped on her just before the test was due to begin. The judge at C saw fit to stop the competition and then after returning to the stable Lyndal was summoned back and given the bell to start with barely a lap of the arena. However, undeterred, Lyndal rode a great test on Sandro Boy to become the best performance of the Aussies with 69.7%.
Next best was Hayley Beresford with the stallion Bellissimo. Like Sandro Boy , Bellissimo is also fairly new to the ranks of GP. With a huge book of 500 mares to serve, her stallion looked a little lighter in condition than when I last saw him in Aachen. However, he did a great job for the next best score of 68.8%, only just ahead of Kristy Oatley on 68.5%.
Kristy’s huge gelding Ronan, at 188cm is a gentle giant of a horse with legs that go for ever. He is so tall he can put his head over the top of the portable stables and peer down at all the little people and horses. His canter is huge and Kristy could barely fit in her zig zag and changes as he seems twice as big as a normal horse. Even so he put in a great performance.
Sancette put in a good test also with a pleasing piaffe passage tour. We had a very uncharacteristic bleep on the first halt where he dropped the bit and stepped backwards . And he did not maintain his final halt. These were costly errors and pulled his score down to 66.36%. I have not given up hope though as his performances have been consistent, and I know he has a high score in him. While the selectors look at these two selection events, there are many other considerations, such as soundness and consistency, and so other events are taken into consideration, particularly where riders have two horses. We are still waiting to find out if we can start our second horses at Compiègne.
There were some hard luck stories for some of the other riders. Poor Brett Parbery was very disappointed that even though Lord of Loxley did a nice test he had his tongue out the whole test, a fact that the judges did not appreciate.
The Special was a wet affair again the next day. Poor Lyndal got dumped on with pouring rain again. Still she did a great job with her first special getting a respectable 66.889%. Kristy’s Ronan, also new to the special, did not passage as well as the day before, but also a good job. Hayley pulled off a super test with a 69.33%, and lost none of the polish she had produced the day before.
It was a very positive overall result for Australia, and I think it is possible for us to produce a very competitive team for London. Many of us will compete again before the next selection event, some at Ermelo, at a National competition, and some at Munich or Hamburg CDI.
My next event will be with Umbro at Hamburg.
Photo: Kristy and Lyndal – cousins clowning around!