Cross-country leader Craig Barrett produced a classy performance with Sandhills Brillaire in the final jumping phase of the Australian International Three-Day-Event in Adelaide to clinch the four-star title.
The second leg of the HSBC FEI Classics 2012/2013 was the New South Wales professional’s first four-star event, for which he earned the HSBC Training Bursary, awarded at every leg of the series to the highest placed rider never to have previously completed a 4* event. It is the first time that the winner of the HSBC Training Bursary has been top of the line-up.
The mare Sandhills Brillaire and her parents were also bred and produced by the Barretts. Craig bred the sire, Staccato, by Salute out of a Thoroughbred mare by King of Babylon, and Craig’s wife, Prue Barrett, Australia’s eventing coach, bred the dam, who is by Galveston. Twenty-year-old Staccato, a former number one WBFSH/FEI Eventing Stallion has now sired two Adelaide 4* winners, including last year’s winner Panamera. Brillaire is owned by Mr and Mrs Keith Osborne.
“I don’t know if that has ever been done before,” Barrett said. “I have a paddock full of them; I’m not sure if they are as good as Brillaire, but we have to look at purpose breeding horses.”
Barrett is now second in the HSBC FEI Classics 2012/2013 standings behind New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson. “I think it is a fantastic initiative from HSBC and the FEI to do this. It really encourages young riders to get to the level they need to get to. I’ve had a couple of goes here, but this is my first completion and I’m very happy to be in the winner’s seat and take home the first-timers award,” Barrett said.
Barrett and the 10-year-old Sandhills Brillaire were fifth after the dressage and just kept improving from there. They produced an almost perfect cross country run over Wayne Copping’s testing track, with the terrain in the Parklands adding to the difficulty.
A beaming Barrett couldn’t wipe the smile from his face and credited his young horse for showing fast pace during the cross country, which saw many top combinations prematurely end their campaign for the title.
“Every win is special but this is the biggest win of my career and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
“Traditionally she hasn’t been the fastest horse in the world, but yesterday the thoroughbred kicked in and she just kept going, just kept galloping,” Barrett said.
The grandstand was full of enthusiastic and knowledgeable spectators for the jumping test, with the crowds keen to witness first-hand the battle for HSBC FEI Classics glory. The 4* field was reduced by one when John Twomey’s ride Highly Recommended did not make it past the Sunday morning veterinary inspection, which was disappointing for this popular combination. But there was still plenty of excitement to come in the head-to-head between Craig Barrett and Natalie Blundell with her talented Thoroughbred, Algebra, so called because as a young horse he was difficult to work out.
Barrett had two fences in hand, but that advantage can disappear only too easily during the final phase. Course dJohn Vallance set a strong track, with the tall HSBC planks the last fence after a seven-stride distance from the penultimate oxer. The planks claimed all but one combination. Blundell and Algebra gave Barrett more breathing room with two down, but they were the only combination to come home under the time allowed.
One of the toughest eventing tests is being able to control your horse’s and your own nerves. With National Jumping Coach Rod Brown to help with the warm-up, Barrett and Sandhills Brillaire produced a perfect round, until the HSBC planks. “I got to a sweet spot and just took my leg off her,” declared the always self-effacing Barrett. The planks were down, but it wasn’t enough to remove Barrett and the mare from the top spot to claim victory by a good margin from Blundell, and with Murray Lamperd and Under The Clocks in third.
Of the final fence, Barrett said: “It was a tough fence that last fence and I don’t think anyone jumped it clear – that’s a real show jumping fence. I think I relaxed coming into the last fence, I knew I was OK so I probably sat a little still.
“I wasn’t interested in what Nat did, it’s no good to worry about what she did or didn’t do. You’ve just got to do your plan, stick to your plan and ride to that plan that’s the best way to do it.
“You shouldn’t worry about what others do because you can’t change it and at the end of the day it shouldn’t change what you’re doing,” he said.
“(Brillaire) was super, an absolute standout. She has only just turned 10 and I think she really stepped up and looked to go to the next level this week.”
• Earlier, Victorian rider Will Enzinger and Flowervale Maserati took home the CCI2* in a nail-biting finish which saw the young rider hold onto the lead and win the class by less than a fraction of a penalty.
Dual Olympic champion and Event Director Gillian Rolton said the AI3DE was an outstanding success with Sunday’ss spring temperatures boosting crowd numbers for the jumping.
“The Australian International 3-Day Event has continued to prove itself as one of the world’s greatest equestrian events, with spectators treated to world-class riding over three, action-packed days,” Rolton said.
“Since Thursday, nearly 20,000 people have streamed through the gates to experience the elegance of dressage, the adrenalin of cross country and the power of show jumping.
“We’ve seen Olympians and stars of the future compete while spectators have been treated to course walks and masterclasses by world number one, William Fox-Pitt, from the UK, members of Australia’s London Olympic eventing team riders Andrew Hoy, Sam Griffiths, Chris Burton and Clayton Fredericks and Badminton Horse Trials winner Paul Tapner,” she said.
In an emotional tribute in the main arena today, world-class rider Megan Jones also officially retired the horse she rode to silver medal Olympic glory in Beijing, Kirby Park Kirby Jester.
“It’s a mixed day for me. It’s sad to be retiring Jester but it’s also a chance to celebrate the incredible horse he is,” Jones said.
CCI**** Technical Delegate Alec Lochore, from the UK, said Adelaide was a great setting and a great venue. “The wonderful thing about our sport is that you can get up close to the action in such a relaxed environment where you can bring your children, bring your dog. There is really something for everyone.”
President of the Ground Jury, Christian Landolt from Switzerland, said the professionalism and standard of the event had continued to grow since he was last in Adelaide four years ago.
“We want this sport to be global. Having such a high standard in Adelaide makes it desirable for overseas riders to compete here,” he said.
The AI3DE is Australia’s premier equestrian event and one of only six Concours Complet International (CCI) four-star events in the world that make up the HSBC FEI Classics Series and the only one in the Southern hemisphere. The event is the only one of its kind to be held in the heart of a city, with other locations on the four-star calendar including USA’s equine capital, Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley in UK, the Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany and Pau, in France’s Pyrenees region.
Final Results 4*:
1 Craig Barrett/Sandhills Brillaire (AUS) 51.0 + 0.8 + 7 = 58.8
2 Natalie Blundell /Algebra (AUS) 54.2 + 5.6 +8 = 67.8
3 Murray Lamperd/Under The Clocks (AUS) 50.7 + 34.8 +16 = 101.5
4 Jessica Manson/Legal Star (AUS) 62.2 + 44.4 +15 = 121.6
5 Keira Byrnes/Fox Hill (AUS) 67.5 + 54.8 + 40 = 162.3
6 Crystal Conning/Marcus Aurelius (AUS) 61.2 + 80.8 + 34 = 176.0
7 Andrew Cooper/Guest of Honour (AUS) 62.0 + 95 +28 = 185.0
1 WILHELM ENZINGER – FLOWERVALE MASERATI 52.3
2 NATALIE SIIANKOSKI – SMART SHOW OFF 53.1
3 KIRSTY DOUGLAS – CUSHAVON CRACKERJACK 55.9
4 JAIMIE STICHEL – IMAGE BLUE ICE 58
5 ROBERT PALM – VISUAL LAUGHTER 58.5
6 COOPER OBORN – HE’S PATRICK63.7
7 JENNIFER KINSELLA – JIMMY O’REILLY 64
8 ISABEL ENGLISH – FELDALE MOUSE 66.5
9 BELLA MOWBRAY – STAR VISION 67.9
10 COOPER OBORN – KIRBY PARK IRISH JOKER 68.3
Reporting: Anna Sharpley, AI3DE