News from Vicki

18 March 2007

This last weekend saw Castle Hill Show, which is another show of varying fortunes over the years, but it has always had a superb jumping surface, and a set of equipment that 20 years ago was 'state of the art', but nowadays is way too heavy. This year, the indomitable Brook family took on revamping the program and supervised the show for a vast improvement. Younger brigade Course Designer Mark Atkins took on that task, and did a great job fishing out the less heavy poles, and creating some interesting skinny fences to keep the balance on the light side. He even found the infamous 'Dutch Gate' stile, which first appeared many years ago, designed by Phons Janssen, a man and a fence that were well ahead of their time, as the V shaped fence with it's very narrow, light poles caused havoc in those days, and enough carnage this weekend!
However it was the 'Grey Brigade' that dominated, with George Sanna winning the Grand Prix on PARATUS, and Colleen Brook the Mini Prix on POET'S CORNER. The day before Rod Brown won the 1.40 on MR BURNS, and RICCI and I won the 1.30. But in the C Grade classes it was a different story, with Jamie Winning taking the C Grade on the first day on DROUGHT, and Rod's daughter Jess Brown the C Ch'ship on LAST DROP. Julia Hargeaves pressured the winners of both big classes by being runner up on her parent's  imported gelding, COPABELLA HAYMEN.
But the big news of the weekend was Australia's great victory in the Trans Tasman competition on Friday at the Kelt Horse of the Year Show in New Zealand. It was an inexperienced team being 'blooded', and the two greenest riders, Paul Athanasoff and Becky Allen, were the ones to come up with the goods. Paul on his wonderful homebred stallion WIRRAGULLA NIKLAUS led the team off and produced a great double clear round, that not only inspired the rest of the team, but saw him win the class, the Bomac Grand Prix. Chris Chugg, who had gone to NZ under his own steam, was 2nd on VIVANT, with 1 time fault in the second round, and Becky, on the still green KOYUNA TED, recorded a 4 and clear for third place. David and Paula incurred 8 and 4 respectively in the first round, so all Aussie riders now have an MES (Minimum Eligibility Standard Certificate) which means thay are eligible to compete at the 2008 Olympics. Unfortunately David and Paula both had 2nd rounds that they would rather forget, with 10 faults and 2 stops respectively, but the Team still came through for the big win. Well done guys!
It's especially great for Paul who has spent quite a while honing his skills as a rider. Not a lot has been handed to him on a plate, and I can remember Paul being one of the grooms for our team in Europe in 1991. Similarly Becky is bred for the job, with both Sarah and Robbie being high level riders in their time, and has had some European experience, but for sure has the tough mind of her dad! No news of the $100,000 Sunday Grand Prix as we go to print, but it would be the icing on the cake for another Aussie win. Big congratulations must also go to Stephen Lamb, who grows in stature as the Aussie Chef d'Equip, and was ably assisted in the coaching duties by Thailand based Aussie, Maree Hewitt.  So I hope much champagne was consumed on Friday night....

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