ORGANISERS of Camperdown’s two-day horse trials are finalising last minute preparations for the event ahead of tomorrow’s opening day.
The announcement was made by organisers in July that the two-day event will be brought forward from its April timeslot and swapped with the three-day event that usually runs this weekend.
Camperdown Horse Trials president Nick McClelland said the change was made to give riders more exposure to international competition as well as more chances to qualify for World Championships and the Olympics.
He said that riders generally head to Adelaide to compete before they came to Camperdown.
“Where we had the major three-day event in December, we’ve now swapped that to next April,” he said.
“Our traditional April two-day event is now in December.
“We’re trying to avoid clashing with the Adelaide International Horse Trials, which is usually held a fortnight before our event in December.
“If we move that to April, that will give the opportunity to those riders that would normally ride at Adelaide, the chance to come back in April and ride at ours (event).”
With 170 horses and riders entered for the two day event, McClelland said the organisers were happy with numbers despite a major event being held interstate.
He said that a large number of the entrants were Victorian, with many making the trek across the state to Camperdown.
“It’s a pretty good result given we’re getting towards the end of the spring eventing season,” he said.
“There’s another event in New South Wales that a few Victorians have gone to, so we’re pretty happy with the result.
“The majority are from all over Victoria, I know a few that are travelling from Mansfield in north east Victoria.
“It’s always typically well supported.”
Entrants will complete in dressage, show-jumping and cross country events over the weekend.
“We’ve got four classes; an 80 centimetre class, 95 centimetre, 105 centimetre and a one star class,” McClelland said.
“We’ve probably got about 50 to 60 in each of the 80 and 95 centimetre classes.”
McClelland said the cross country would be one of the events to watch over the weekend, with Sunday set to be the day to watch.
“Cross country day, which is on Sunday is always a highlight,” he said.
“We’ve also on Sunday got the showjumping on the arena, that’s the real action-packed day where spectators can come along and see what’s going on there.
“The dressage is on the Saturday and both days are starting at eight o’clock in the morning and go through until about three o’clock in the afternoon.”
Course designer Mick Pineo has been busy preparing the course this past week, and although he and his team have had less time to have the course ready than usual, he said conditions were favourable.
“The condition of the course is perfect for this year, the amount of rain we’ve had and the grass cover is perfect for the horses,” Pineo said.
“Overall there would probably be 120 to 130 fences across four different tracks.
“This year has only been a short preparation, it’s only been this week, but generally it takes two to three weeks to have it (the course) ready.”
Pineo was said he was hopeful they wouldn’t see the ‘150 millimetres of rain’ predicted across the weekend but was looking forward to seeing good riding across the jumps he has built.
Meanwhile, South Australian riders entered at the two-day event will be wearing the colours of one of the state’s greatest riders.
The riders will do so in memory of two time Olympic Gold medallist Gillian Rolton, who passed away recently after a two year battle with endometrial cancer.
Rolten famously rode Australia to the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games despite falling off her horse Peppermint Grove twice, and sustaining a broken collarbone and broken ribs in the process.
She dusted herself off after each fall and returned to the saddle and completed the course.
South Australian rider Rebecca Martin said the riders will wear the colours in the cross country on Sunday and black armbands across the two days, as a tribute to Rolton.
The colours are red and gold, with the body of the top coloured red, with gold bands on the sleeves.
“All of us South Australian riders that are coming over to Camperdown have decided we’d like to wear Gill’s cross country colours,” Martin said.
“All of us in some way have been influenced or affected by Gill in some way; she’s taught or met all of us.
“We thought as our own little thing of respect and tribute to her, that is what we would do.”
Martin said that there were a couple of riders who attended her memorial service and after chatting to two riders that she knew were attending this weekend, they decided to do something for Rolton.
“I said to them I would really like to do something for Gill, whether its armbands or that and they both thought it was a wonderful idea and then one of us suggested we ride in her colours,” she said.
Ahead of the weekend, Martin said that a large contingent of riders were coming across the border and were looking forward to competing.
She knows the occasion is bigger after Rolton’s passing but was grateful the riders from South Australia could all come together to remember one of Australia’s most inspiring sportswomen.
“I think the camaraderie is really good with this event and especially having a common meaning with Gill and all wanting to respect her and pay tribute to her,” she said.
“Everyone’s extremely excited, it’s probably the biggest turnout for South Australian riders in Victoria, we’ve got 10 going which is quite unusual.”
The Camperdown Horse Trials two-day event will be held tomorrow and Sunday from 8am each day at the Lakes Sporting Complex in Camperdown. Entry to both days is free of charge.