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Day Two Action: ‘Special’ Win for Dad in $132k Grand Prix

It was a special win for 30-year-old Clunes rider Steven Hill who took the honours in the Horseware Australia Jumping Grand Prix, heading home 37 other super-slick combinations at EQUITANA Melbourne this afternoon (Friday).

Thirteen came back for the second round where just two of the five combinations on zero faults kept their slates clean. It was more heart-stopping action as the final riders pushed hard to not only go clear, but to post times that would put the pressure on those who followed...

Chris Chugg, who had two in the second round, was ninth to go on PSS Levilensky and they did just that, going double clear in 63.69. Kiwi Katie Laurie and Casebooke Lomond looked on track to edge him out but trouble at the double put paid to her efforts. Next out was father of three Steven Hill and Yalambis Bellini Star, the horse his parents Dianne and the late Bruce had bought as a two-year-old for his 21st birthday.

With the weight of the packed stands on their backs, they came home fast and clear, setting a late benchmark in the $132,000 class.

“I thought about going safe and clean but I’m just too competitive for that,” said Steven, who campaigned the mare in Europe in 2015 when chasing a berth in the Australian team for the Rio Olympic Games.

He ended up second reserve and contemplated selling the horse in the Northern Hemisphere. Instead, he decided to bring her home. But the season has been less than ideal for the combination, with the mare not herself of late.

“She hadn’t jumped a clean round for weeks,” said Steven. “She’s just not been on song.”

He struggled to pin point just what was wrong with the horse and gave her 6-8 weeks off after a disappointing Melbourne Royal before bringing her back for the Australian titles.

“To win this is pretty special,” he said. “Next on the plan was nothing until next year really but I may have to relook at that now.”

Yalambis Bellini Star has long captured the eye of many on the Australian circuit and Steven is rapt to have her back in such great form. “Hopefully this is the start of a whole new phase in her career,” he said. “It’s just awesome.”

Susanne Hearn backed up her CDI-W Grand Prix victory with another in the CDI-W dressage freestyle to music aboard her beautiful dark bay gelding Remmington. Their 72.55% effort headed home a 12-strong field, with Rozzie Ryan and Jarrah R second on 71.555% and Dirk Dijkstra aboard AEA Metallic third with 70.31%.

Susanne was very pleased with the 16-year-old who she bought as a yearling and has painstakingly brought through the grades.

“You just never know with horses,” she said. “Sometimes he can get a bit nervous with all that atmosphere.” However, tonight Remmington was every bit the star with exceptional piaffe and passage, and a test that highlighted his rhythm and elasticity.

“He is a very special horse,” said Susanne who admitted to being rather surprised to emerge as the victor this evening. “I love the Grand Prix and my Freestyle is simple but he was very good tonight. He was on fire and right on the music.”

The IRT All Star The Way Of The Horse is proving to be just as captivating as promised. The four previous champs – Bruce O’Dell, Ken Faulkner, Tui Teka and Adam Sutton – have each made impressive progress with their horses.

All of the horsemen have sat on their horses with some introducing tarps, large balls and other ‘toys’ to the round pens.

TWOTH organiser Sandi Simons says the progress is testament to the natural curiosity of the Morgan and Moriesian horses. “Being a champ of champs, there is a lot of dialogue between horse and trainer,” she said. “That curiosity of the horses has worked in favour of all the trainers. It is wonderful to see each horse showing such individuality and how the trainers are working with them.”

The competition continues tomorrow (Saturday) and will culminate with the grand finale on Sunday which is sure to be before a packed stadium.

The legendary Adele Edwards just edged out 11-year-old rising star Sophie Edmonds to take out the 2018 EQUITANA Australian Open Barrel Race Championship title.

Adele and Moon Roc stopped the clock at 16.401 seconds, with Sophie and Late for School (Deano) coming home in 16.578 and the third placed Bianca Hertel aboard Cash flying through the flags at 16.735.

The barrel racing horses – all of whom had qualified with their riders to take part in the championship – needed little encouragement as they streaked through the centre of the Aqualuma Grand Pavilion arena.

The Barwon Zone took out the PCAV Showjumping Championships in a closely fought battle before an appreciative crowd, five points ahead of the North Eastern Zone in second and Central another eights back to take third.

EQUITANA Melbourne continues tomorrow (Saturday).

Results –

Horseware Australia Jumping Grand Prix: Steven Hill, Yalambis Bellini Star 1; Chris Chugg, PSS Levilensky 2, Clay Simmonds, Oaks Castanza 3; Gabrielle Kuna, Flaire 4; Brooke Langbecker, Quintago 1 5; Jennifer Wood, Cocaine Ego Z 6.

CDI-W Dressage Freestyle presented by Mulawa Performance Horses and Longvue Dressage: Susanne Hearn, Remmington 72.55% 1; Rozzie Ryan, Jarrah R 71.555% 2; Dirk Dijkstra, AEA Metallic 70.31% 3; Katharine Farrell, Luxor 118 69.085% 4; Holly Cutler, Diva Royale 68.73 5; Alycia Targa, CP Dresden 68.21% 6.

EQUITANA Australian Open Barret Race Championship: Adele Edwards, Moon Roc 1; Sophie Edmonds, Late for School (Deano) 2; Bianca Hertel, Cash 3; Dusty McPhee, Beaver 4; Michelle Bush, Tomulenas Destiny Boy 5;Teneille Angland, Black Power 6.

Fiber Fresh 1.3m: James Arkins, Eurostar 1; Chris Chugg, KG Queenie 2; Katie Laurie, McCaw MVNZ 3; Brooke Langbecker, Beijing LS La Silla 4; Jamie Winning-Kermond, Yirrkala Pippi Longstockings 5; Elliott Reeves, Twins Ava 6.

EQUITANA PCAV Jumping Championships – C Grade: Barwon 1, North Eastern 2, Central 3, Midland 4, Northern Metropolitan 5, Northern and West Gippsland =6.

For more information, head to www.equitana.com.au .

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