Ludo Lords Over Great Wall of Melbourne

Stephen Dingwall has long thought it would be kind of cool to be a member of the Two Metre Club . . . and now he’s in.

The Murrumbateman horseman was a class above the rest last night winning the Willinga Park Puissance when he and his homebred gelding Cavalier Ludicrous cleared the Great Wall of Melbourne at 2.05m. They had a shot at 2.17m but it was too much, however their efforts were enough to give them a well deserved victory...

He hails from wine country, right between Yass and Canberra where he is split between two properties – one with a jumping focus and the other for the young horses. He brought two horses with him to EQUITANA Melbourne – 11-year-old Cavalier Ludicrous, who is better known as Ludo at home, and eight-year-old Cavalier du Rouet, or Memphis.

Stephen has had Ludo his whole life. He bought the mare, who was in foal to Camelot Ego Z, was there when he was born and done all the work with the gentle and sometimes quirky giant.

“We are always very careful with our horses,” he says. “They don’t do a great deal of competing at four, it’s more of an education focus,” he says.

Ludo usually competes at the 1.4m-1.5m level.

“In my whole career I have only ever see four puissance competitions,” says Stephen, “and this is the first one I have ever ridden.”

But he has done similar competitions before. At the Canberra Royal he has been a regular competitor in the demonstration bareback high jump where he and Ludo were a late entry but came out to win at 1.85m.

“They were short of entries and because it is our local we had to enter.” Ludo is also a very good six bar horse, having won all of his five starts.

“He has a lot of power and I had to trust that last night,” said Stephen. “It’s about not changing our system and just riding it as though it is a 1.3m.”

He felt at 2.05m, it seemed like an “ok jump”. “I wasn’t putting a lot of leg on him or anything, but 2.17m didn’t look like a jump any more. I really had to press him three or four strides out.”

And Ludo kind of agreed. “It was confusing to him that it was so big.”

However, with such a strong partnership, the mutual trust shone through. “What I really noticed what the time between take-off and landing – it felt like a long time.”

Stephen admitted to a few nerves before the class, but once he rode into the Aqualuma Grand Pavilion it all disappeared. “I was more nervous at home just thinking about it! We did do a little training (to prepare), going up to 1.7m. I didn’t want to overdo it in the warm-up arena outside either, so we didn’t jump much there . . . just enough to get his mind back on jumping. I needed it to feel natural for him.”

It was a challenge for them all having a triple bar before the wall. “It is a jump that I very different to how you want your horse to jump the wall.”

He was the only rider who pulled his horse right up after the triple bar to reorganise and collect Ludo before presenting him to the wall. “I wanted to avoid coming out of the corner too big.”

Stephen will start Memphis, his top horse, in the Horseware Australia Grand Prix this afternoon, opting to give Ludo a well-earned rest.

“Ludo is a funny horse – he is a big chicken sometimes and others so brave. When we’ve had him in these big pressure situations, with indoors and televisions, he copes with it all so well.”

Their puissance win is now part of the Dingwall family history. “It is very unique because you don’t have them so often, so that adds to it. My grandkids will probably see photos of this, so that makes it all very special.”