All the New Zealand horses have settled in well and duly passed the veterinary inspection at the Saddleworld Melbourne International Three-day Event at Werribee Park this afternoon, looking fit and ready for action in the Oceania Championships. Australia won the draw for both the Senior and Young Rider competitions, so needless to say New Zealand will be first out with both teams.
The Young Rider team of Abigail Long on Enzo, Renee Faulkner on Rubinstar HH, Vicky Browne-Cole on Eli, and Jackson Bovill on Visionnaire will do their dressage tomorrow (Friday), in that order, in the Horseware Ireland CCI2* class, which has 34 entries.
The senior team also trotted-up in running order, with Virginia Thompson trailblazing with Star Nouveau, followed by Andy Daines and Spring Panorama, Samantha Felton with Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, and anchored by Jock Paget and Angus Blue. The 30 entries in the Pryde’s Easifeed CCI3* do their dressage on Saturday.
The Australia senior team is Stuart Tinney on War Hawk, the defending champions, Hazel Shannon on Adelaide CC14* winner Clifford, Andrew Cooper on Evergem Perfection, and Robert Palm on Koko Story. Stuart’s daughter Gemma is a member of the Young Rider team on Annapurna, along with Tayah Andrew on Silver Force, Olivia Barton on APH Bertie Bad, and Shanae Lowings on Venture Sky High.
The weather has been calm and mildly sunny, but steady drizzle set in as the official photographs were being taken; however, it is forecast to be a fine weekend.
New Zealand team dressage trainer Penny Castle has been working with all the riders, and says: “They are all excited, but really focused and working through the processes.”
Jock Paget, who is mentoring the Young Riders, has walked the first part of the two-star cross-country with them, but will not get to walk the three-star track until Saturday. Having walked the tracks myself this morning, I thought they looked imposing, despite not being completely dressed, and the water fences not yet filled.
The big, bold course winds through the glorious grounds of Werribee Park, with perfect footing, and glimpses of the historic Werribee Mansion as they gallop past before crossing the polo grounds and returning through the hallowed turf of the rose garden. The venue is completely flat, with man-made mounds providing technical questions.
There is a good bunch of Kiwi supporters in attendance, and a friendly atmosphere, so bring it on!