Perth Horse Trials

13-14th May, 2017

Report by Kate Herren

Photos courtesy Wayne Edwards- Waylib Sports Photography

Click on the link above to view more photos

Top: CIC3* winner Sonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino
Centre: CIC1* winner Katherine Joyce and The Diamond Thief
Bottom right: EvA95 winner Will Baxter and Kdale Mr Collins
Bottom left: CIC2* 2nd Tegan Cook and Go Tommo

Albany sheep farmer Sonja Johnson claimed the top Reece’s Event Hire CIC3* class at Perth Horse Trials Wooroloo 1 near Perth (13-14 May). The Australian Olympic silver medallist claimed the top prize with her family’s smart eight year old chestnut, Misty Isle Valentino. “I really think the world of him - if he was human I’d marry him!” said a delighted Sonja, who won by less than half a penalty from Lauren Browne and Sky’s Da Limit.

The Warmblood x Quarter Horse x Arab got a little feisty in the show jumping but only lowered one rail; “He’s good looking, personable and talented but he still has to listen to me - he thought he should have been going cross country,” added Sonja, who was returning to this event after a year out – she travelled to Europe in 2016 with her top ride, Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison, only narrowly missing out on a place on the Australian Olympic team for Rio.

At the prize giving ceremony, Sonja spoke for all the riders when she said: “We are so lucky to have this event – but can we please have some green grass next time!” She was referring to the exceptionally dry conditions – thought to be the worst in the event’s 30-plus year history. Despite no rain for at least six weeks prior, the organizing team put in a sterling effort to make the best of the ground, adding sand to the show jumping arena, before watering and aerovating regularly.

Sections of international course designer Wayne Copping’s totally revamped cross country track were also aerovated: “It’s the first year we’ve aerovated and the riders seemed very happy,” explained Wayne, who shook things up on cross country day by reversing the direction of the track and moving the start and finish areas.  Wayne who also took some significant safety strides with the introduction of frangible MIM Clips around the course, the first time these collapsible devices have been used in WA. “We felt strongly that as organisers of Western Australia’s most prestigious event, we should be leading by example when it comes to horse and rider safety,” explained Brett Christie, chair of the Perth Horse Trials Association which organises Wooroloo 1.

Frangible devices can be used on a range of cross country fences including oxers, gates and corners. Riders who trigger the device by impacting the fence receive 11 penalties under FEI rules.  “We are very pleased to see these MIM Clips in place at Wooroloo – rider feedback has already been very positive,” added Brett.

“New fences meant new challenges – I thought it was testing enough and you certainly couldn’t afford to go to sleep out there,” said Rob Vlasschaert (3rd in the CIC3*).  The carpenter from Baldivis was chuffed to be back on form with Jackie Bouter’s veteran mare, Hanover Park Gianne (16), on what was only her second run of the season following a year out injured: “She’s not the easiest, but she definitely tried hard for me.”

Held on a working prison farm, a well-established working realtionship with the Department of Corrective Services and prison staff means that Wooroloo organisers rely on a team of prisoners to assist with the preparation of the cross country tracks and building of the courses. Following the cancellation of the flooded WAYER event at Brigadoon earlier in the year, the Perth Horse Trials Association organising committee added FEI classes at late notice at the request of riders seeking qualifying runs.

Nobody could get close to dressage leader Emma King and DVZ Chevalier who took out the Prestige Loans and Wealth Creation CIC2* by more than 20 penalties. She’s clearly built a strong partnership with the nine year old Warmblood x TB by Chico’s Boy, since buying him as a four month old foal. “He has loads of personality – he a real extrovert and loves people,” said Emma.

Tegan Cook filled second and third places with the contrasting Go Tommo and ESB Irish Specialist.  Both of Tegan’s rides were making their debut at the level, but that’s where the similarities ended: “They are like chalk and cheese – ESB Irish Specialist is very laid back while Tommo is a sensitive redhead and a real tiger across country,” explained Tegan, who hopes to go to Adelaide.

Harvey police officer Katherine Joyce was ‘super chuffed’ with her OTTB The Diamond Thief who took the CIC1*. “I genuinely think its linked to his saddles – our saddle fitter Leigh White actually adjusted the fit of his dressage saddle the night before the competition and he did his best ever test. Saddle fit is so important – he’s only a young horse (7) and he changes shape every week.”

Pip Oversby was also thrilled with another ex-racer, Brooklands Brew, who slotted into second. “He has been a bit tricky and had lots of dramas – he didn’t finish his last run at Moora as he stifled himself going into the water – but today he was really happy on the cross country.” explained Pip.  Madison Gielen finished third in this class with Devereaux Top-Up.

Diary date: The Prestige Loans and Wealth Creation Wooroloo International three day event will be held from 18-21 August 2017. See some top class eventing action just 45 minutes into the Perth Hills with free admission for spectators and a large trade village for some retail therapy!


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