Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Manson withstood the pressure applied by Olympian and former Adelaide champion Megan Jones, posting a super clear round aboard her 13-year-old Australian Stock Horse, Legal Star, to win the second leg of the FEI Classics at the Australian International 3 Day Event.
Manson set up her victory on Saturday by producing the best cross country run, adding just 2.8 time penalties. That, coupled with a seemingly easily executed clear on Sunday, clinched the victory with just over six penalties ahead of Jones.
It is not just a matter of putting your best foot forward, but putting all your feet forward the best, and the sure footed grey, who stands at 15.3hh, demonstrated no ill effects from his near mishap departing from the second water on course on Saturday. “I was a bit shocked really,” declared a delighted Manson, “I had three down last year and that was on my mind when I walked the course, but when I rode in I just focused on the job I had to do.”
Jones had a tough ride across country, but the big thoroughbred gelding Kirby Park Allofasudden produced his characteristic good jumping round in this influential final phase. This was the third occasion that he has taken second place in the Adelaide four-star. “I will not start him at Adelaide next year,” Jones said, “and I will prepare him with Rio in mind”.
Soigne Jackson was sixth overnight with her ex-racehorse, Gold, by Opera Prince, and moved into third place with just two fences on the ground. “Gold was bred in Dubbo in outback New South Wales,” explained Jackson, 24. “I grew out of my pony and my parents were keen for me to ride him, and I was a bit anti the idea. People have advised me to sell him, saying he would never get out of novice, but we make a good team.” They have completed Adelaide twice, with ninth place in 2013 and now third.
The final jumping phase can cause a great deal of movement in the placings and with just three clear rounds from the eleven strong field, Victorian professional Katja Weimann moved up from 11th to ninth, then up to fourth thanks to jumping talent from her home bred BP Cosmopolitan.
Jessica Manson has been based for 2014 in New South Wales with professional rider and trainer Christine Bates, who puts a lot of emphasis on jumping training. Manson now heads back to Western Australia and has hopes of taking Legal Star overseas to compete in a Northern Hemisphere four-star in 2015, or 2016.
Twelve-year-old Legal Star was bred at the same stud as Sonja Johnson’s Beijing team silver medallist Ringwould Jaguar, but they are not related. “Legal Star was given to my mum as a three year old and she thought she might do some endurance with him, but he was a bit naughty and bucked her off twice and she wanted to give him back. I started to ride him and he has never bucked me off and we haven’t looked back,” Manson said.
Cool weather, sunshine and action enticed crowds to the final jumping phase in front of the heritage Victoria Park Grandstand. They were attentive through the two-star, and warmed up and ready to appreciate the action of the FEI Classics, which unites the world’s six four-star events.
Reporting: Anna Sharpley
FEI Classics 2014/15 – Adelaide, results after Jumping
1 Jessica Manson/Legal Star (64.60)
2 Megan Jones/Kirby Park Allofasudden (70.70)
3 Soigne Jackson/Gold (95.90)
4 Katja Weimann/BP Cosmopolitan (96.40)
5 Elizabeth Lowery/KL Kismet (97.90)
6 Tegan Lush/Tempus Fugit (98.20)
7 Keira Byrnes/Fox Hill (104.60)
8 Isabel English/Feldale Mouse (113.50)
9 Seumas Marwood/Wild Oats (123.20)
10 Charlotte Price/Kinnordy Gambia (131.70)