Large crowds and cooler conditions were both welcomed to Victoria Park on Friday at the Australian International Three Day Event which marked the beginning of the Adelaide CCI4* which is the second leg of the 2014/15 FEI Classics series.
Olympic silver medallist and South Australian Megan Jones and her horse Kirby Park Allofasudden are the early leaders, the pair proving their class in front of a packed Adelaide City Council Heritage Grandstand.
Allofasudden is the horse which travelled with Jones to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, but was withdrawn from the Australian team due to a minor foot injury.
The duo’s impressive comeback to major competition scored 51.50 which gives them a 5.3 penalty advantage leading into Qantas cross country day.
“(This time) last year his foot still wasn’t quite right. We have had a long slow preparation and it’s helped so much on the flat. It’s really taken a long time and lots of schooling,” said an elated Jones.
The atmosphere surrounding the dressage arena unsettled a few combinations and second placed combination and CCI4* debutant Belinda Isbister said, “it’s hard to prepare for an atmosphere like this, I know after today a lot of West Australians will be looking for a rent-a-crowd to practise with.”
Isbister is having a fairy-tale run as she is currently holding second place on 56.80 penalties. Isbister also has a vocal and strong contingent of supporters. “They are pretty amazing, one of my friends has even made cheer squad shirts. Everybody from WA gets behind Adelaide. We love it.”
Rounding out the top three in the CCI4* on a score of 58 is the only male rider in the 14 strong field, Victorian Seumas Marwood who is riding the mare Wild Oats. Isabel English was all smiles as she left the arena on Feldale Mouse finishing on a score of 58.30 which leaves her in 4th position.
Another highlight of the day was gold medal winning Olympian Dirk Schrade who enlightened and inspired throughout the Prydes Easifeed Masterclass held prior to the commencement of the CCI4* dressage.
Earlier in the day the last of the competitors in the Horseland CCI2* took to the ATCO main arena. There were no changes to the top three (Christine Bates & Kung Fu Panda GP lead Megan Jones & Kirby Park Invader and Eleanor Osborne & Highborne Rocker) from Thursday and Megan Jones on her third entry in this class, Kirby Park Impress, has moved into fourth position.
Qantas Cross Country day promises plenty of excitement and action and thousands are expected to converge on Adelaide’s Parklands to catch a glimpse of Australia’s best horses and riders in action.
“I think tomorrow’s cross country course will be tough. There are lots of questions out there, lots of accuracy tests. I haven’t ridden a four star here since 2011. Every jump has to be ridden properly,” said Jones.
Action gets underway from 10am and tickets will be available at the the three event box offices located on Fullarton road; Corner Bartels and Dequetteville Tce; and East Tce and Bartels Rd. Gates open from 8am. Results