Adelaide’s Olympian Megan Jones produced the winning test for the dressage phase of the FEI Classics™ series at the Australian International 3 Day Event in Adelaide with Kirby Park Allofasudden, slowly worked back into peak fitness after injury kept him from the London 2012 Olympic team.
However, she was “disappointed” with the 51.5 handed out to the Thoroughbred gelding by Rustic Amber. “When I came out I was thinking more of about 44,” she said, but was nonetheless pleased to be in the lead.
Fifty percent of the four-star field were Thoroughbreds and first and second place went to horses bred for “the sort of kings”. Twenty-seven-year-old Belinda Isbister from Brigadoon in Western Australia rode her Holy Bruce by Woodman to claim second place in her debut four-star appearance with 56.80. Belinda, who thinks of Adelaide as a “local event” and only 2,700 kilometres from home, had great support from a partisan crowd in the grandstand many of whom had also made the long outback journey across the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide.
The only male in the field of 14, Seumas Marwood, thought he had ridden the best test ever aboard the Contango II mare, Wild Oats. “I feel the tests were better than the marks the horses were given,” he declared. Marwood and Wild Oats hold third place with 58.00.
Marwood and Wild Oats were sixth last year and despite a trip to Europe for the summer, the mare looks a picture of health and is heading into her strongest two phases. Marwood however does not take anything for granted: “the course is similar to last year, but it is tougher this year. It is a fair test, but a real test of accuracy”.
Seumas Marwood with his Contango II mare Wild Oats, currently third at FEI Classics™ in Adelaide (Julie Wilson/FEI)
Megan agreed: “It is tough and there are a lot of questions. At this four-star level every jump has to be jumped. There are a lot of options as well, which is good as that will get more riders home and that builds confidence. It is a good test and it will take some smart riding”.
Belinda, who has walked the four-star track every year for about the last six said: “there is a big difference when you are actually riding it”. Her thoughts on the course tomorrow: “think skinny”.
The FEI Classics™, the popular series that links the world’s six four-star events, attracts a huge crowd in Adelaide for cross country day, which can resemble a food and wine festival in the park with horses. However, the horses get top billing, with the going considered the best it has ever been, and the crowd becoming more horse savvy.
Experience dominates the competition at this point and with only three riders over 30 in the field, Megan and Seumas being two of them, they are likely to be dominant come Sunday afternoon for the final Jumping phase.
FEI Classics™ 2014/15 – Adelaide, results after Dressage
1 Megan Jones/Kirby Park Allofasudden (51.50)
2 Belinda Isbister/Holy Bruce (56.80)
3 Seumas Marwood/Wild Oats (58.00)
4 Isabel English/Feldale Mouse (58.30)
5 Charlotte Price/Kinnordy Gambia (60.30)
6 Jessica Manson/Legal Star (61.80)
7 Tegan Lush/Tempus Fugit (62.00)
8 Soigne Jackson/Gold (63.50)
9 Keira Byrnes/Fox Hill (63.80)
10 Tarryn Proctor/ESB Irish Quest (64.00)