Australia ruled in the Land Rover CCI4*-S this afternoon, with the visitors claiming a hattrick in the Oceania Eventing Challenge and Olympian Shane Rose riding off with the individual title.

Finishing behind Shane and Virgil’s 30.8 penalty score, was Oliva Barton (AUS) in second on 33.9, with Andrew Cooper (AUS) and Sharvalley Thunder in third on 38.2. Diane Gilder was the best of the Kiwis in fifth on 47.4.

Australian chef d’equipe Stuart Tinney said there was plenty to love about their Land Rover Horse of the Year Show. “It is a wonderful show,” he said. “The cross country was a great track and it is just what we need to get into this sort of environment. It is so valuable.”

He was excited for the future of their riding coming through. “They all did a great job out there.”

The challenge of the cross country course not being able to be walked in full until just before the class added another layer of learning for all.

“It is a great learning curve and something you only see at big events and all good experience.”

He was confident there was plenty to take away for all from the event, including experiencing travelling with horses and being part of the whole team environment. Having Shane Rose there too was also a real bonus especially as all of those who had made the trip have a desire to represent Australia at World Champs or Olympic Games in the future. “It is a fantastic effort for Shane to win for his journey in preparation for the Olympic Games. I am very proud of our training programme and coaches moving for the future.”

New Zealand chef Jock Paget reiterated his words, saying it has also been a great opportunity for the senior riders to experience the pressure of a team environment at LRHOY which had a real international feeling.

“This is part of the bigger picture for our programme and it is at these types of events that you get the hardest lessons. Now it is up to us as a programme and the riders to look at what we do, find the gaps and close them.”

In the end, Australia finished on 161.3 penalty points for their best three combinations, with New Zealand on 203.

Just two combinations – Shane Rose and Olivia Barton (AUS) aboard Hollyander HG – finished on their dressage scores, with five combinations coming home clear in the showjumping including New Zealand’s Madison Seivwright aboard Waitangi Pinterest and individual Donna Edwards-Smith with DSE Mendoza.

On hand to see Shane Rose win was Virgil’s owner and breeder Michelle Hasibar. It was his first-ever win at LRHOY. “This was a massive part of my Paris programme and it was key to get my qualification here.”

He figured LRHOY would be perfect for the 18-year-old horse to get it ticked off and allow them to continue with their programme. “If he goes well, he is normally pretty competitive,” said Shane, who loved that the cross country was so late in coming together due to it sweeping through the whole showgrounds.

He was chuffed to receive the Sir Mark Todd Trophy. “It’s pretty special that Mark has so generously given his 1994 Badminton trophy for this.”

Shane would love to see more competition between Australia and New Zealand including a Trans-Tasman series that could run over a season.

It was New Zealand for the double in the Fiber Fresh CCI3* eventing with the young rider team winning the Oceania Challenge and Kiwi Abbey Thompson aboard Cadbury KSNZ winning the individual.

Riders came back in reverse order with barely a change in the top seven combinations, albeit a shuffle of placings.

Australian Molly Lines and Tadpole posted the first clear of the class for her final tally of 38.2 penalty points, which was quickly bettered by Abbey added nothing to her 36.9 score. Last to go was overnight leader and New Zealand Oceania team member Bridie Quigley aboard Oranoa Greyson who were dreadfully unlucky to take the last and finish on a score of 37.4 for second placed behind Abbey with Molly in third.

Bridie’s calm riding saw the New Zealanders hold on to the Oceania 124.7 penalty points to the Australian’s 130.2.

New Zealand chef d’equipe Lizzie Green was very proud of her crew. “They are such a great bunch and a very tight knit group,” she said. “It is very important to have that unity in a team. They are all very good riders and exciting for the future.”

She again underlined the importance of team competitions for the future of both New Zealand and Australia.

Individual winner Abbey, who heads to the UK after competing at the Adelaide next month, was rapt. “He tried his heart out,” she said. “He was a bit tired after yesterday as I don’t usually go that fast on the cross country but I decided I needed to get into that rhythm.”

It’s eight-year-old Cadbury’s first LRHOY and Abbey says he coped well with the atmosphere and pressure. “He is so sweet and easy to have around and is a very genuine horse.”

She was doubly happy for the win, given she’s been second more times than she cares to count at New Zealand’s bigger competitions.

“I certainly didn’t think I would be winning at the beginning of the week.”

She and Cadbury head to the UK on a one-way ticket and will base with Harry Mead in Wiltshire.

By Diana Dobson – ESNZ hp media liaison
Photo: Libby Law