Equestrian Australia today revealed plans for a three test jumping series against Australia’s fiercest sporting rival.
Over three weeks in September, Australia and New Zealand will go head to head in a senior and young rider Trans-Tasman jumping series offering the best riders from both nations with an opportunity to compete in a team’s style event.
The Royal Adelaide Show (6-12 September), the Australian Show Jumping Championships (19-22 September) and Royal Melbourne Show () will each host a round of the series.
EA is currently inviting expressions of interest from Australian riders who wish to be considered for the senior or young rider test teams.
“We are delighted that Equestrian New Zealand has accepted EA’s invitation to compete in the three test jumping series in September,” said Equestrian Australia CEO Grant Baldock.
“It is not often that equestrian athletes get a chance to compete as part of a team and this series will provide our top senior and young jumping riders with a rare chance to experience how team competitions unfold.”
“The three test events will be a great addition to each of the three local events and I am sure that spectators will be excited by the added drawcard of an Australia versus New Zealand duel.
“Events such as this are pivotal to building competitive teams for major international teams competitions such as the World Equestrian Games and this series will benefit both nations in the lead-up to WEG 2014,” Mr Baldock said.
Another advantage to riders campaigning for a start at next year’s World Equestrian Games is the recent announcement that course designer for the Games, Frederic Cottier, has been secured as course designer for the Australian Show Jumping Championships.
“Our local riders will benefit enormously from competing on a course designed by the course designer for the 2014 World Equestrian Games and will give them a great opportunity to test their skills,” Mr Baldock said.
The Australian senior and young rider teams which take on New Zealand in the three test series will be comprised of four members and a reserve and will be supported by a Chef d-Equipe.
Teams for each event will not necessarily be comprised of the same members as riders may elect to compete in one, two or each of the three rounds. More information is available on the Equestrian Australia website.
I keep hearing about our Aussie Show Jumper Amy Graham and for some reason, we have never actually managed to cross paths at a show in Europe yet. But I thought that with London looming and all our top riders doing their best to impress the selectors I thought it was about time we got a bit of a run down on this Aussie gal. So here is just a little background on Amy...
Amy Graham is an ex-pat Aussie who first made a name for herself as the show jumping lady from South Australia who lead the field in the 2008/09 Australian World Cup season with her horse Transatlantic. This win meant Amy & Transatlantic were offered a start at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2009. Amy decided to decline the start in Vegas, instead choosing to take two of her horses, Transatlantic & her young stallion Bella Baloubet to Europe to train and compete. The first stop on their itinerary was the famous 'Spring Tour' in Arezzo Italy.
So Amy made the big trip from SA across the globe to Amsterdam with two horses. The first two days were spent with fellow Aussie Edwina Alexander before heading south towards Italy. The horses had a few days to acclimatise from the trip before they started training and Amy's Aussie coach Michelle Strapp flew over to help prepare for the 'Spring Tour'. Amy was already having mixed thoughts about having to go back home after a few shows and decided that she wanted to stay in Europe indefinately.
The first few months of Amy's stay were spent based with Edwina Alexander while all the plans for a future in Europe were put in place. In the last two and a bit years Amy has had the opportunity to base herself at some of the top stables in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy which have broadened her horizons on so many levels and provided her the time needed to set up the company RST International. The company was set up so that Amy could buy and sell young horses, ensuring an income and the legitimate reason for her to stay for the Visa department!
During her time abroad, Amy has already established a name for herself as both a very capable rider and a seller of quality horses. Her experience with young horses and professional show jumpers means that Amy has a good eye for a potential star and is also happy to work with buyers to help them find their dream horse.
Another aspect of the RST business is the Young Rider Tours, which will be run 4 times each year over a three week period. Amy has also included an opportunity for others to experience the show jumping life in Europe with an Internship for Equine Students. You can findmore info about that here.
The home of RST and Amy Graham is an impressive multifunctional facility located in Someren, The Netherlands. It boasts an indoor arena, stables for 20 horses, Purpose built outdoor jumping and dressage arena, gallop track, horse walkers, solariums, lunge arena, turn out paddocks and living quarters.
On the competition front, Amy continues to build on her success at the top level with Bella Baloubet. Together they made their debut team appearance as part of the Aussie team that finished 4th overall in the CSIO4* Nations Cup. Amy & Bella had just 4 faults in the first round and were clear in the second. This brilliant result saw Amy & Bella attain their MES and are now hot on the heels of Aussie representation at the London Olympics in 2012.
To keep updated with Amy's progress and news, be sure to keep an eye on her regular blogs. The latest blog gives a little insight into a Geroge Morris clinic and Amy's busy schedule of shows that are coming up...
You can also have a look at the RST International & Amy's website here
Editors Note: Amy Graham is proudly supported by the Australian company Bates Saddles who are delighted to hear of Amy's European Success. Here is what amy says on the Bates web site.
Australian Young Rider Show Jumping Champion in 2005, Amy Graham has been competing in the highest level of showjumping in Australia and is currently ranked first in the Australian League of the FEI World Cup on her horse Transatlantic
“I have always ridden in the Bates Caprilli Close Contact with CAIR® right through my junior years to now and have always been happy with my saddles. The saddles have allowed me to develop a stable seat close to my horse while still allowing free movement through the shoulder and back for the horse. In researching a saddle for my newly imported stallion I was excited by the newly released BATES ELEVATION. In the time I have been riding my horses in the BATES ELEVATION I am impressed with my immediate comfort, perfect balance and in particular an even closer feel around my horse. This allows for improved communication between horse and rider, they continue to feel free and soft in the back and I have an even greater understanding as to what is happening underneath me.”
Show Jumping Spectacular at the Lugarno Lions Spring Festival
Here are some interesting facts and numbers regarding Marcus' Ehning's win at the Global Champions Tour on Saturday evening in Rio de Janeiro. The German Showjumper had a remarkable season.
1. In Rio he won 463'130 Euro.
2. During the 2010 GCT season he has won 552'266 Euro
3. He has competed at all nine GCT shows this year.
4. He has ridden three different horses, each of which has done three show.
5. Plot Blue, Sabrina and Noltes Kuchengirl were the horses concerned, the latter winning over 100'000Euro alone.
6. In Rio, he only had one fence down all weekend.
7. When the last fence fell for Marco Kutscher it was effectively the most expensive rail in show jump history. He only needed to finish Saturdays Grand Prix higher than 24th place to be sure of winning the bonus regardless of whoever won the Grand Prix.
8. If Marcus Ehning had been 1.5 seconds slower, he would have finished fourth and the title would have gone to Marco Kutscher.
For a young rider who has ventured overseas to see if she has what it takes, talking to Edwina Alexander was very inspiring - She gave me hope that an Aussie young rider can make it to the top.
Edwina left Australia in 1998 with one horse and the desire to give her dream the chance to become a reality. Twelve years later, Edwina is ranked fifth in the world, having competed and been successful at a number of major international competitions around the world. In 2006 she not only became the first Australian to make the final of the individual jumping competition at the World Equestrian Games, but went on to finish fourth.
My first question for Edwina was, why she made the trip in 1998? She said that she loved the sport and she wanted to see if she could actually make it internationally.
“I planned to just go for 6 months, but when the 6 months was up I headed home briefly to get my visa and returned to Europe, this time to stay long term,” Edwina says. “When I got back to Europe reality hit. I knew that this really was the trial time. It was horrible at first, I didn’t like it at all.”
Edwina said she had trouble dealing with the weather, the language, and the mentality of the people in Europe. “I was alone a lot, and I’d never lived on my own before so it was tough.”
But Edwina stuck it out and in 2002 she met her partner, trainer and olympic gold medalist Jan Tops and moved to live and train with him in 2003. Recently engaged, the couple run a breeding and training stud in Holland, and Edwina admits it’s a tough business to be in.
“If you had asked me a week ago how many horses I had in work I would have said 8 or 9, but now I'm down to six.”
I couldn’t believe that Edwina would sell her competition horses, but she reminded me that it is a business. “It’s what I do. Of course we keep the top horses, but we are a dealing stable and so I need to sell some of my horses to keep things running. It’s sad but it’s also rewarding. If I sell my horses on for good price I know that I have done a good job with them.”
Watching Edwina compete in Portugal as part of the Global Champions Tour was really inspiring. The only Aussie up against an elite selection of the world’s best, Edwina is not only competing, she is winning. Taking out the Grand Prix challenge in France, Edwina is running fifth overall and still has a shot at the grand prize of $1 million euros.
But it’s not all Jump offs and pay outs. Edwina says that international competition takes a lot of effort and that there have been times in her career when she seriously considered giving up.
“Two major times come to mind,” Edwina says. “Once when I was young, about 17, and I had really bad horses. I was sort of the clown of riding, but I didn’t want to give up because I hated the thought of disappointing my parents.”
The second time Edwina considered ending her career she was riding more than ten horses a day, running the stud, and was flat out buying and selling horses. It all just got to be too much.
“I actually stopped competing for over a year,” Edwina says.
Aside from the pressure and the hard work Edwina faces at the top she also misses Australia. “Being overseas makes me appreciate Australia even more, not just because I miss my family but because of the countries natural environment and fine weather.”
But hard work and determination has pushed Edwina through these challenges and Edwina attributes her success to good horses, good management and lots of discipline.
“I’m also not afraid, and I love competing.” Edwina adds that a competitive spirit is vital and without that strong desire to win she never would have succeeded. “You can’t do anything without something driving you on. I’m very competitive. I love a challenge.”
The highlight of her career Edwina says was her staggering performance at the 2006 world championships where she finished fourth.
“I surprised myself, I didn’t expect it. It showed me that if you really put your mind to something and believe in yourself enough, things can happen.”
With a goal now to win the World Championships in October, Edwina is constantly on the go. Although only competing on two horses in Portugal, the Jan Tops stable brought four on the trip. The entourage of Edwina, Jan and the two full time grooms planned to leave straight after her 8pm jump off that night, and begin the two day/two night trip, straight to her next international meet in Germany.
As for the future of the sport, Edwina says that events like the Global Champions Tour have come a long way at lifting the profile of international Show Jumping. “It’s increased the prize money across the board and made owners more willing to invest in horse and rider.”
Show Jumping in Australia is also gaining momentum but Edwina says the move overseas was a crucial step on her pathway to success. When asked if she could have made it to where she is if she had stayed and trained in Australia Edwina replied “no way, absolutely not”.
“In Australia you’re not against the top riders and you’re not surrounded by the top horses and intense competition. Australia is a good place to start but over here it’s a whole different ball game.”
Edwina says even if she had the same horses back in Australia she would not have achieved the same results.The international scene fostered Edwina’s talent, and Edwina says that it certainly wasn’t luck or superstition that got her to fifth in the world.
“I used to have superstitions but four years ago I had a really bad fall. I split my lip and there was blood all down my riding jacket. I swore to never wear that riding jacket again. A year later I put that jacket back on and ended up winning the competition. That blew all my superstitions out the window.”
I thought it was funny though that two of Edwina’s horses have their own farrier. The groom advised me that the stable stuck with what worked, so while the majority of horses could use the one farrier, some horses needed ‘special attention’.